Tuesday 28 March 2017

Athletics: Gillick fury at US rival after clash shatters medal dream

Ireland's David Gillick shows his disappointment after finishing in fifth position in the men's 400m final in Qatar PAT MURPHY / SPORTSFILE
Ireland's David Gillick shows his disappointment after finishing in fifth position in the men's 400m final in Qatar PAT MURPHY / SPORTSFILE

Tom O'Riordan

David Gillick hit out at Bershawn Jackson's "stupidity" after a clash with the American put paid to his dream of a medal in the 400m at the the World Indoor Championships.

The Dubliner was disqualified for his part in the incident after trailing in fifth, with only Jackson behind him, and an appeal from Ireland team manager Patsy McGonagle was yesterday dismissed.

The pair had also collided in the semi-final, although they went on to finish first and second in that race, and the chairman of the disciplinary jury revealed to McGonagle that there had been discussions about disqualifying Gillick from the final.

McGonagle himself acknowledged that Gillick "might have handled that final bend a bit differently" on Saturday.

However, Gillick -- who went into the Doha final with high hopes of a medal, possibly even gold, having qualified second fastest -- was adamant that he had done nothing wrong, laying the blame firmly on Jackson.

He insisted that Jackson "cut me off", claiming that after moving up to third place on the second lap, he was being patient as he came into the final turn.

"Then a gap appeared on the inside of Jackson and I went for that gap and he blatantly came across me, blatantly came across," said Gillick.

"And I think he should be disqualified because that action by him forced me to completely chop my stride and it was just too late then to get going again and the Cuban got up for second and he was running from lane one.

"I'm bitterly disappointed. I really wanted a medal and I felt I was in great shape to get one. But unfortunately another athlete's stupidity cost me my medal."

The disciplinary jury, though, indicated to McGonagle that Gillick had been the subject of concern about physically aggressive tactics in the semi-final.

"They were very diplomatic but they made it clear to me that they had discussed that incident and considered disqualifying him for his indiscretion in making contact with the American," explained McGonagle.

Cited

Gillick was cited by two Americans for two different incidents in the final, first after he passed Jamaal Torrance on the back straight of the second lap and again when he tried to pass Jackson on his inside. The Americans claimed that both Jackson and Torrance had their progress interrupted by Gillick's actions.

McGonagle said that the chairman of the jury suggested that he have a quiet word with Gillick about his racing tactics in the future -- of course, this would not affect Gillick's outdoor running, where competitors stay in the same lane.

It seemed strange that the Americans would go to such efforts to have Gillick disqualified so that Jackson could move up one place from sixth to fifth. However, the fifth-placed finisher is entitled to $6,000. Gillick now gets nothing.

"The whole experience was hard for David to take and he spent a couple of hours in the stadium after his race trying to come to terms with his experiences and disappointment," said McGonagle.

"He was totally down in the dumps. He went for the gold medal and was very determined to win the race and you have to admire him for that, but perhaps if he was to run that final again he might have handled that final bend a bit differently."

Certainly, it might have made more sense Gillick to try to pass Jackson and the eventual gold medallist, Chris Brown of the Bahamas, on the outside.

However, while it will take Gillick a while to recover from this shattering blow, he has the consolation that he is probably in the shape of his life, is not injured and that he can come back and make amends by winning the European outdoor title in Barcelona next July.

It was not a good championship for the Irish and the last competitor, sprinter Claire Brady, bowed out of the women's 60m in her semi-final yesterday when she finished sixth in a time of 7.40 seconds.

"I came here to try and make the semi-finals and I'm happy with my efforts to get that far," said the young woman from Celbridge.

Irish Independent

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