Irish competitors featured with mixed fortunes at IAAF World Championships in London over the weekend.
Brian Gregan brought a successful weekend to a close in the semi-finals of the men’s 400m. The 27-year-old Dubliner was simply outclassed as he came home sixth in 45.42 in a race won by Olympic champion Wayde van Niekerk in 44.22.
“It was tough,” said Gregan. “I had the best guys in the world around me.
“It was like an Olympic final, but I ran as much of my own race as I could. I finished 19th in the world, so I’m fairly satisfied.”
“I’m finishing ahead of lots of the top European guys and that will set me up for the European Championships next year. I’m good enough to go sub-45 and this experience will stand me in good stead.”
Mick Clohisey finished an excellent 22nd in the men’s marathon in 2:16:21, a race won by Kenya’s Geoffrey Kirui in 2:08:27.
“I’m happy to get myself back on track with a strong, solid performance,” said Clohisey.
“The atmosphere was something else with all the Irish out there – it brings you forward when you’re going through those crowds. I had to be happy with that. It’s about time I did something decent in the Irish vest.”
In the women’s marathon, Leevale’s Claire McCarthy defied her age and ranking to finish 33rd of the 91 athletes in 2:38:26, and the 41-year-old mother-of-four was elated with her effort.
“I have to be happy,” said Walsh, who is coached by Olympic marathoner Donie Walsh.
“The last half was really tough, when your body is screaming at you, but it was about looking up the road and seeing who was coming back.”
What made her run more impressive was that this was McCarthy’s global championship debut and afterwards she paid tribute to all those who had helped her along the way.
“I had the best build-up in a long time and I have the best training partners with Leevale I could wish for,” she said.
“The support has been amazing. I fell into tears at times because the atmosphere was absolutely incredible.”
For Ciara Mageean, it was a tough – the 25-year-old crashing out of the World Championships at the first stage in London last night, coming home a distraught 13th in the heats of the women’s 1500m.
“To be honest, that was a disaster,” she said. “Everybody has seen my season and it had been my best so far and I was going from strength to strength, so to go out and run that poorly…”
Thomas Barr was forced to withdraw from his 400m semi-final of the World Championship on Monday night due to a vomiting bug.
After safely navigated his heat on Sunday, Barr suffered a bad bout of gastroenteritis overnight and with that was left with no choice but to make the difficult decision.
And he wasn’t alone either: according to the IAAF, several athletes also staying at the Irish team hotel at Tower Bridge were like Barr effectively quarantined after suffering from the illness:
“My whole year has been focused on the World Championships,” said Barr. “The support yesterday was just brilliant and to not be able to go out and compete today for Ireland is beyond disappointing.”
Mark English bowed out of the World Championships too – finishing fifth in his 800m heat in 1:48.01. English had been well off his best for much of the season after developing a nerve problem in his quadriceps, which had limited him in both training and races over the past month.
“I was able to train with it, but it was taking away from the quality of everything,” he said. “But that’s the fine line that athletes tread between success and falling down the other side. I haven’t had that same sharpness since last year or the year before but that’s what happens when you have an interrupted season. I’ll get back and get ready for the next one.”
Photo: Stephen McCarthy/ Sportsfile