'If I had 405 metres you never know...' - Ireland's Thomas Barr agonisingly misses out on Olympic medal
Published 18/08/2016 | 16:06
Ireland's Thomas Barr has finished fourth in the final of the 400m hurdles in Rio.
The Ferrybank AC athlete, running out of lane 4, produced another Irish record run but missed out on a podium place by just five hundredths of a second.
He broke the 48 second barrier to come home in a time of 47.97.
American Kerron Clement took the gold medal in 47.73 seconds followed by Boniface Mucheru of Kenya with Turkish athlete Yasmani Copello just pipping bar to third place.
Barr broke his own Irish record to win the third semi-final on Tuesday night in 48.39 seconds, the third fastest qualifying time for the final.
It was a remarkable achievement for the 24-year-old to even make the final given how much Barr's season has been blighted by injury.
Barr, who is a Mechanical Engineering student at the University of Limerick, is the first Irish finalist in the 400 hurdles since Bob Tisdall won gold in 1932.
Speaking about how the race transpired, Barr told RTE Sport: "I was a little big staggered behind on the back straight I felt. I came off hurdle six or hurdle seven a little awkwardly and that kind of knocked me back slightly and coming into hurdle eight and usually I turn on the taps coming into hurdle eight and I tried to open up as quick as I could without hampering my stride pattern.
"I think I stuttered into hurdle nine and I stuttered into hurdle 10 and that may have cost me slightly but when I was coming over hurdle 10 and I was gaining ground... if I had 405 metres you never know what might have happened but unfortunately it's a 400m race.
"To be anywhere close to a medal... I'm absolutely thrilled.
"I'm absolutely delighted to have made it to the final and I'm even more delighted to see a 47 up on that clock.
"I expected that I would nearly need a 47 to get a medal but I didn't know I had it in me. I didn't know I had it in me.
"I'm delighted with how the race went.
"Maybe it was a step too far this time around, my first international senior final. Fourth is probably the best and the worst place to finish outside the medals."
A gold medallist at the World University Games in 2015, Barr has lowered his personal best by almost a second. His final time was 0.42s quicker than the Irish record he set in the semi-finals.
"I had no chance on paper after all my injuries," said Barr. "Maybe I should miss three months of training every year."
There was a lot of emotion in the RTE studios after Barr's heroic exploits.
"That time would have got a medal in any other championships," Thomas' sister, and fellow 400m hurdler, Jessica Barr told RTE.
Irish athletics legend Sonia O'Sullivan said: "What happens nor for Thomas is that he looks at a start list and he feels like he belongs."
"The best sprinting performance we've ever had at an Olympics... just stunning," was Derval O'Rourke's assessment.
Here's how the race finished: