Paul Robinson agonisingly close to European 1,500m medal after dramatic final
Two Irish athletes had their hearts broken in the incident-filled European 1500m final today, where athletics bad boy Mahiedene Mekhissi-Benabaad romped home to gold, Kildare's Paul Robinson finished fourth and Leevale's Ciaran O'Lionaird did not even make it to the finish line.
With 600m to go O Lionaird was badly spiked and taken down when he had moved into a commanding position and three men were subsequently also taken down at the bell in another dramatic pile-up.
The Irish team management has put in an official complaint about the way O'Lionaird was clipped and taken out from behind, but it looks unlikely to change the result and or affect Robinson's placing.
The Kildare runner, from St Coca's AC, was devastated to have come so close to a medal, especially as he was overtaken in the last few strides by Britain's Chris O'Hare.
"I had it but in the last few seconds it was taken away from me, I'm absolutely gutted," Robinson said ruefully.
Benabaad, the controversial Frenchman who was disqualified for taking his shirt off after winning the steeplechase, did a bit of showboating again when he easily kicked clear in the final straight.
Some elements of the crowd booed him when he crossed the line in 3:45:60.
Norway's defending champion Henrik Ingebrigtsen took silver in 3:46: and, in that frantic final dash for the line, O'Hare just got up to steal bronze from Robinson's, taking third in 3:46.18 to the DCU student's 3:46.35.
O'Lionaird needed medical aid on the track after his fall but did not suffer any serious injury.
"I got spiked badly with 600m to go and felt my right hamstring (sore) but then someone stood on me again, instantly my hamstring cramped and I just thrown off kilter and I couldn't run," the Corkman said.
Not long afterwards Ireland's men's relay team smashed the Irish record that they'd set on Saturday when finishing fifth in the 4x400m final in 3:01.67.
The inclusion of Letterkenny's 800m bronze medallist Mark English (UCD), who replaced Crusaders Brian Murphy on the second leg into the team, helped them smash the 3:03.57 they'd set a day earlier by almost a full two seconds off.
Richard Morrissey (Crusaders) once again ran a brilliant third leg and anchorman Thomas Barr just held off Germany by three hundredths of a second to hold onto fifth place.