Sunday 23 November 2014

European Championships round-up: Thomas Barr and Amy Foster into semi-finals

Published 12/08/2014 | 12:54

12 August 2014; Ireland's Thomas Barr after winning his heat of the men's 400m hurdle event, in a time of 49.79. European Athletics Championships 2014 - Day 1. Letzigrund Stadium, Zurich, Switzerland. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
12 August 2014; Ireland's Thomas Barr after winning his heat of the men's 400m hurdle event, in a time of 49.79. European Athletics Championships 2014 - Day 1. Letzigrund Stadium, Zurich, Switzerland. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
12 August 2014; Ireland's Phil Healy, left, on her way to finishing in 6th place, in a time of 11.53, during her heat of the women's 100m event. Also pictured is Estela García of Spain. European Athletics Championships 2014 - Day 1. Letzigrund Stadium, Zurich, Switzerland. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

WATERFORD hurdles star Thomas Barr cruised through his qualification at the European Championships in Zurich this morning, winning his heat in 49:79 to clinch an automatic place in tomorrow's semi-finals.

"Job done" said the Ferrybank star after his excellent early morning opener.

"I wasn't too worried as it was the first four to get through so the qualification wasn't difficult and it's going to be all about tomorrow now."

Crusaders Jason Harvey, who also had to run out of lane 1 in the 400 hurdles heats, finishing second last in his heat in 51:91 due to the foot injury that disrupted his training before the Commonwealth Games.

With a PB of 50:13 and seeing 50:72 get through as the fastest loser to qualify, the Ulster runner was particularly frustrated, saying "I lost two weeks training which is really frustrating as I know I'm only .5 or .4 off Tom when I'm fully fit."

There was good news too for Lisburn flier Amy Foster who nicked the last qualifying spot in the 100m semi-finals with her 11:51 run into a slight head-wind.

The joint Irish record holder was unlucky to be beaten for automatic qualifying on the dip as the fourth-placed runner in her heat also ran 11.51, which meant she had a nervous wait until all five heats were over to see if she would get in as a fastest losers.

She eventually took the last available semi-final spot and Bandon teenager Phil Healy just failed to get join her by two hundredths of a second, after finishing sixth in her heat in 11.53.

"I'm disappointed with the time because I ran 11:49 at nationals and I thought I was in good shape but I was racing at European Juniors this time last year and have lowered by personal best from 11:63 to 11:49 this year so that is a big step," said Healy, a nursing student from Cork.

As expected Irish 400m champion Brian Gregan came through the heats automatically after finishing third in his heat in 46:33 but the big surprise was that Ireland will have two men in the 400m semi-finals.

Crusaders Richard Morrissey knocked two tenths off a second off his PB to run a lifetime best of 46:20 and while he was sixth in his race his time was enough to get through as the third fastest loser to qualify, a big breakthrough for the British-born athlete whose father is from Mayo.

But there was disappointment for young Limerick sprint hurdler Sara Lavin (20), the girl tipped to be the 'new Derval', who was making her senior debut.

A silver medallist at European juniors last year, Lavin (Emerald AC) needed to match or beat her PB of 13:23 to get through in the ultra competitive 100 hurdle heats.

But she could only produce 13:35 into a 1.1 headwind and was bitterly disappointed, saying: "I really felt I was in the shape to run 13.1 but I just didn't have it there today."

It was still a good first morning for the Irish as four of the first seven athletes into action all made their semi-finals.

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