Friday 21 July 2017

O'Lionaird plots smooth course to semi-final spot

ATHLETICS

Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

IRELAND'S Ciaran O'Lionaird (Leevale AC) timed his run to perfection in yesterday's third heat of the 1500m to earn a place in tomorrow's semi-finals.

The 23-year-old from Macroom, a recent graduate from Florida State University who is a former European Youth Olympics bronze medallist, has found a new lease of form this summer after recovering from serious injury.

He was part of the Irish team that won the U-23 title at the European Cross Countries last winter and has since clocked up a series of personal bests, including a breakthrough 3:34 to qualify for Daegu.

The young Corkman looked very comfortable yesterday when taking an automatic qualifying spot in his heat in 3:40.41, won by Morocco's Amine Laalou in 3:39.87.

O'Lionaird kept out of traffic until the final bend when he came through from ninth position to sixth.

Kenya's Daniel Komen qualified fastest yesterday in 3:38 and O'Lionaird will be in with him and some other huge talents in the second of tomorrow's semi-finals (12.05pm Irish time).

There was no Irish athlete racing in the 800m final, but another Corkman -- Br Colm O'Connell from Mallow -- played a massive part in it as he coaches Kenya's David Rudisha (22), who confirmed his superstar status by storming to his first senior global title.

Br O'Connell has coached many world and Olympic champions since he went to Iten as a missionary in 1976, including Peter Rono and Wilson Kipketer.

Rudisha took the title with a masterful piece of front-running, coming home in 1:43.91, with Sudan's Abu Kaki getting up to pip Russia's Yuriy Borzakovskiy for silver in 1:44.41.

Elsewhere, Germany's shirt-ripping Robert Harting retained his discus title with 68.97m, but there was a big surprise in the women's steeplechase where Russia's European champion Yuliya Zaripova shocked all the fancied Kenyans with a marvellous display.

What they are calling the 'Curse of the Programme' struck again when Russian golden girl Yelena Isinbayeva crashed out of the pole vault final.

The 27-time world record-holder featured on the front cover of the daily programme yesterday and maintained the bizarre trend of all of the event's cover stars so far failing badly.

Another pole vaulter, Australia's reigning men's champion Steve Hooker, couldn't get past qualifying on the opening day.

The cover was graced by Usain Bolt on day two and high hurdles star Dayron Robles on day three -- both of them were disqualified in their finals.

Britain's golden girl Jessica Ennis failed to successfully defend her heptathlon title due to a disastrous performance in the pole-vault, settling for 6,751 points and silver as Russian Tatyana Chernova won with 6,880 points.

A real global star was born in the 400m when Grenada's Kirani James (18) pipped the defending world and Olympic champion LaShawn Merritt in a sensational final.

Ireland's David Gillick, who placed sixth in the 400m two years ago but had to sit this one out with injury, will have been encouraged to see the European champion Kevin Borlee take bronze in 44.90.

Irish Independent

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