It was another action-packed morning for Team Ireland in a sweltering Tokyo this morning. There was disappointment for boxer, Kurt Walker, who lost out in his quarter-final bout with USA’s Duke Ragan by the finest of margins, a 3-2 split decision after a pulsating contest.
In athletics, there were fantastic performances from Eilish Flanagan and Michelle Finn in the Women’s 3000m Steeplechase heats, with Flanagan producing the run of a lifetime to shave an incredible six seconds off her Personal Best time, while Finn produced her fastest time at a major championships.
It was a day of mixed results for the eventing team after today’s Cross Country performances as they lie in 8th position on a score of 161.00 heading into tomorrow’s final phase of Show Jumping. Elsewhere, Shane Lowry and Rory McIlroy are still in action on the final day of the Men’s Individual Stroke Play with more updates to follow this afternoon.
Team Ireland’s Michelle Finn and Eilish Flanagan were the first track athletes in action on Day 9 for Team Ireland, competing in the Women’s 3000m Steeplechase heats.
Flanagan produced the performance of a lifetime to shave six seconds off her Personal Best, with a time of 9.34.86 to finish 12th in her heat. Doing well to stay on her feet after a number of athletes fell in front of her, Flanganan battled to stay in contention throughout.
Speaking after her new lifetime best, Flanagan said: “It really excites me for that to be my first performance on the world stage. It makes me believe a bit more that I belong there, so I’m looking forward to the next opportunity on a stage like that.”
Finn, going in the fastest of the heats, had to deal with a strung-out field, but put in an impressive last 800m to record her fastest time at a major championships – 9:36.
Action continues on the track this evening when Thomas Barr lines out for the semi-final of the Men’s 400m hurdles.
There was disappointment for Team Ireland boxer, Kurt Walker this morning as he lost his Men’s Feather quarter-final clash against Duke Regan (USA), by the finest of margins – a 3-2 split decision. Regan took the better of the opening round, dictating the pace throughout, but Walker regrouped well in the break and came back strong in the second to level proceedings going into the final round. An extremely closely-contested final round saw the two boxers evenly matched throughout, but Regan just pipped it in the end on a 3-2 split decision.
Speaking afterwards, Walker said: “I am so proud. It was so close. It was a good fight, and that’s the way it goes.”
Looking at the tactics before the fight he added: “We talked about it before - to push – that was it. Maybe I should have pushed more with 30 seconds to go in the first round, but when you’re in there, you don’t really know how things are going, obviously if they get the better of you, but you don’t know what way it’s going really. His jab was very fast, and I just needed to work my way around that and I knew I could do it in the second and third,” he finished, adding he will take some time off now to rest and recover.
It was a day of mixed results for the eventing team after today’s Cross Country performances as they lie in 8th position on a score of 161.00 heading into tomorrow’s final phase of Show Jumping. Best of the Irish was Austin O’Connor and Colorado Blue (SHBGB), who stormed around the track with an impressive clear round inside of the time allowed - one of only seven competitors to do so. O’Connor and the Irish-bred 12-year-old grey, head into the final Show Jumping phase tomorrow on their dressage score of 38.00 and in 20th place.
Speaking after the clear round, Austin said: “I am delighted with my horse’s performance, the horse was great. He seems to have recovered really well. He is a class horse. We will all enjoy the next phase now. We will get the horse recovered and myself recovered and hopefully come out and finish on a good note.”
Team members Sam Watson and Sarah Ennis both picked up faults on the tough track that nine competitors didn’t complete. Watson and Tullabeg Flamenco (ISH) were extremely unlucky to knock a frangible pin, automatically picking up 11 penalties. The safety feature is a deformable device which will cause a cross-country fence to collapse and are designed to prevent rotational falls. Watson also picked up two time penalties on the course. Adding this to their dressage score from Friday leaves them in 31st position on a score of 47.30.
“It’s a really tough one to take because he was brilliant,” stated Watson. “The reason he had the 11 penalties was that I let him fall in on that line a little. He ballooned in over the oxer and he got there a fraction close. I should have made more room for him and kept out. We [the team] stay alive, we’re still in the game but I am frustrated.”
Sarah Ennis and her mount Horseware Woodcourt Garrison (ISH) also picked up jumping and time penalties on the track. Around the midway point of the course, Ennis experienced steering difficulty with the 12-year-old gelding after a large drop to a skinny. The run out also resulted in the pair having multiple time penalties and taking some longer routes to get home.
“I felt as we came to the drop and down to the skinny, where he ran out, he got really hard on my right rein and he ran down that hill. For love nor money I couldn’t turn him,” Ennis said. “It is really unfortunate. I was very lucky to get him home. He felt very empty and heavy. I say he will bounce back, he is a tough one and will come back fighting tomorrow. He is fairly hardy but the humidity got to him today.”
The horses will now be transported back to Equestrian Park later on this evening where action will continue tomorrow for both the second horse inspection and final Show Jumping phase of Eventing.
MORNING RESULTS DAY NINE: JULY 31ST, 2021
Women’s 3000m Steeplechase, Heat: Michelle Finn, 9th in 9:36.26
Women’s 3000m Steeplechase, Heat: Eilish Flanagan 12th in 9:34.86
Kurt Walker (IRL) v Duke Ragan (USA) – Men’s Feather (52-57kg) Quarter-Final – Win for USA on 3-2 split decision.
Eventing – Cross Country – Austin O’Connor & Colorado Blue (SHBGB)1 – 38.00, 20th place.
Eventing – Cross Country – Sam Watson & Tullabeg Flamenco (ISH) 2 – 47.30, 31st place.
Eventing – Cross Country – Sarah Ennis & Horseware Woodcourt Garrison (ISH) 3 – 75.70, 39th place.
1 2009 gelding by Jaguar Mail (SF) out of Rock Me Baby (AES), by Rock King (WNTR). Breeder: Mellon Stud / Kate Jarvey, Limerick. Owners: Austin O’Connor & The Salty Syndicate.
2 2009 gelding by Tullabeg Fusion (ISH) out of Tullabeg Heidi (ISH), by Ardenteggle Sir (IPSA). Breeder: Nicholas Cousins, Wexford. Owner: Vahe Bogossian.
3 2009 gelding by Garrison Royal (ISH) out of Davitt Star (ISH), by Furisto (HANN). Breeder: Patrick J Kearns, Laois. Owner: Breda Kennedy.
Team Results after Cross Country:
8th place – Total: 161.00
DAY NINE SCHEDULE (ALL TIMES ARE IRISH TIME): August 1st, 2021
*Schedule may be subject to change
Ongoing Golf – Shane Lowry – Men’s Stroke Play Round 4
Ongoing Golf – Rory McIlroy – Men’s Stroke Play Round 4
10:41 Gymnastics – Rhys McClenaghan – Pommel Horse Final
13:05 Athletics – Thomas Barr – Men’s 400m Hurdles Semi-Final