Friday 2 December 2016

Barr hits form for Worlds as Heffernan is disqualified

Cathal Dennehy

Published 10/08/2015 | 02:30

Thomas Barr clears the last hurdle on his way to winning the men’s 400m hurdles at the GloHealth National Track and Field Championships in Santry
Thomas Barr clears the last hurdle on his way to winning the men’s 400m hurdles at the GloHealth National Track and Field Championships in Santry

Thomas Barr gave himself the perfect send-off ahead of next week's World Championships by taking his fifth national title in Santry yesterday, but there was disappointment for Rob Heffernan, who was disqualified in the 10,000m race walk.

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In what was his final race before he departs for the holding camp in Hong Kong today, Barr proved a class apart in the men's 400m hurdles, coming home well clear to win in 49.68 seconds.

"It was a good, consolidating run," said Barr. "It was a fast run given the conditions and it was just what I needed going into Beijing."

The 23-year-old has struggled with a chronic problem in his right hip in recent weeks, but having got the issue under control, Barr feels he's ready to make an impact at his first World Championships.

Damage

"The hip is okay - no better, no worse," he said. "It's irritating and an annoyance, but I know I'm not doing damage. My coach said to run it as if it was a heat in Beijing because out there, I'm going to be going hell for leather in each race."

Meanwhile, Heffernan had the worst possible result ahead of his bid to retain the 50k race walk world title.

The Togher athlete stepped off the track just past the halfway point after being given his third warning by the judges for lifting.

At the time, Heffernan had pulled clear of Alex Wright of Leevale, who went on to win in 40:04.29.

Heffernan, though, wasn't too worried ahead of his title defence in Beijing on August 29.

"It was disappointing I didn't get to do the second half of the race," he said. "My plan was to get to 5k and then bury it, drive it home, but I race 50k at 4:20 a kilometre and today, at 3:50 a kilometre, it's different. Things are highlighted (by the judges) at that pace.

"This isn't the be all and end all. I just need to regroup now and get ready for Beijing.

"It felt easy for me today. I felt alive again, had that bit of arrogance. I'm very happy with my form."

Mark English was also confident of his form ahead of the World Championships after holding off the late challenge of Declan Murray to take his third national 800m in 1:50.94.

"I'm just happy to come through it and get the win," he said. "I wasn't focused on accelerating at the end; I was trying to run controlled and practice that smooth running style."

English has turned his season around since finishing last in the final of the European Under-23 Championships last month, and is optimistic about his chances in Beijing.

"I think I'm back to my best," English said. "It's a carbon copy of where I was last year, maybe a little better, and the lack of expectation plays into my hands."

Elsewhere on the track, there were sprint doubles for both Marcus Lawler and Kelly Proper, while former world junior silver medallist Ciara Mageean showed she is on her way back to the top after a commanding front-running performance to win the women's 800m in 2:02.98.

Mageean, who returned to action in recent weeks after a plantar tear in her foot earlier this year, is still undecided about competing at the World Championships, where she is eligible to run the 1,500m via the IAAF quota system, but the UCD athlete says a decision will be made after consulting with coach Jerry Kiernan.

Adam McMullen provided the highlight of the field events yesterday, the Crusaders athlete taking victory in the long jump with a wind-assisted effort of 7.89m.

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