Friday 30 September 2016

'I cant put it into words'- Thomas Barr's tearful sister beams with pride after medal near miss

Tom Rooney

Published 18/08/2016 | 17:20

Thomas Barr, centre, of Ireland in action against Kerron Clement of USA, left, and Yasmani Copello of Turkey during the Men's 400m hurdles final where he finished in 4th place with a new Irish record of 47.97 in the Olympic Stadium, Maracanã, during the 2016 Rio Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Thomas Barr, centre, of Ireland in action against Kerron Clement of USA, left, and Yasmani Copello of Turkey during the Men's 400m hurdles final where he finished in 4th place with a new Irish record of 47.97 in the Olympic Stadium, Maracanã, during the 2016 Rio Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Jessie Barr, sister of Irish hurdler Thomas, fought back the tears as she beamed with pride after he came tantalisingly close to winning a bronze medal in the 400m final in Rio earlier today.

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Few athletes will miss out on medal at these maniacal Rio games on margins quite as fine as Waterford’s Thomas Barr did.

Five one hundredths of a second separated him and Turkey’s Yasmani Copello at the end of the gut-busting dash under a searing sun this afternoon.

Barr set a new Irish record with a time of 47.97s, breaking the one he only just smashed in the semi-final.

Like Annalise Murphy, the 24-year-old provided some much needed relief following the ignominy that has befallen Irish sport over the last fortnight.

Speaking on RTÉ, Jesse Barr, who represented Ireland in London four years, struggled to curtail her emotions as she processed her younger sibling’s feat.

“I can’t even put it into words. I mean, I know there is no medal but he ran 47 seconds for the 400m hurdle.

“If you told any of us before he went to Rio that he was going to run a sub 48 seconds, come fourth in the Olympic Games, and that we’d be disappointed – it’s just incredible, I’m so proud of him.

“He’ll be disappointed but he’s going to come away from this so proud. If he had gotten a medal, obviously it would have been amazing, but he’ll be so hungry for the next games.

“He wants that medal now. It was there for the taking, that was such a fast race - that time would have gotten him a medal in any other championships.

“He’s so unlucky. I don’t t even know what to say – it was just so amazing.”

Also on the panel was Sonia O’Sullivan, who finished fourth in the 3000m final in Barcelona 24 year ago. She enthused that Barr’s achievement will not just imbue him but the entirety of Irish athletics.

“Everybody says fourth place is the worst finish but, you know, I always say it’s better than fifth or sixth or seventh.

“You have to be so proud of that. It brought so many people together to watch this today. It’s going to inspire people to believe more in Irish athletes and what they can do.

“I used to always say ‘why can’t people do what I do?’ I’m just a normal girl from Cobh who went out there and ran a lot.

“I think what happens now for Thomas is that he now looks at the start list and feel like he belongs,” she said.

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