Athletics: Frustrated Gregan misses out on medal
The agony on the face of Brian Gregan said it all after he was denied a medal in the final of the 400m at the European Athletics Championships.
It was just a bridge too far the big-hearted 22-year-old from Tallaght as the bronze slipped from his grasp over the last 50 metres.
He blamed a muscle spasm in his groin for slowing him down -- "otherwise I would have had the bronze," he insisted.
"I had absolutely no problem before the race and this thing just came at me about 80m from the finish. It's just hell to lose out like that.
"Things have gone well for me out here and I've had three good races, but I went out there to get a medal and I really gritted my teeth coming into the finishing straight.
"Now I don't know whether or not I will be okay for the relay (today)."
Gregan faded on the line and ended up sixth in 46.04, well down on the 45.63 he ran in the heats on Wednesday. That time, and even his 45.76 from the semi-final, would have earned him bronze yesterday.
Halfway down the straight, the gold medal was already decided as the smooth-running favourite Pavel Maslak from the Czech Republic powered to the title in 45.24.
Jessie Barr also ran a courageous race in the final of the 400m hurdles, doing everything in her power to keep in contact with the leaders, which she did up to the final barrier.
The 22-year-old was up against it in terms of experience at this level, but emptied the tank all the way down the home straight to come home in eighth place in 56.83, with the gold medal going to Denisa Rosolova of the Czech Republic in 54.24 -- the fastest time in the world this year.
Barr was clearly disappointed and was critical of her performance.
"I tried a new stride pattern, but it fell to pieces a bit," said the Ferrybank athlete.
"I just wish I had done myself justice, but it will happen in the future. This has been a great experience and I will get over it.
"I just wish the time had been a bit faster, but apart from the first 150, I was struggling."
Paul Hession is provisionally through to the final of the 200m after a day of drama in the event.
He finished in fifth place in his semi-final in 20.84; that put him third in the 'best losers' rankings, one short of landing a place in the final.
Hession might have been inclined to pack his bags and head home for Galway, but news came through that Greek athlete Lykourgos Tsakonas, the impressive winner of his semi-final, was disqualified for a lane infringement.
That gave Hession a place in the final, but the Greeks were contemplating an appeal, so the Galway man may not find out until this morning whether he is running.
Hession ran well in his heat, finishing a strong second in 20.73, his fastest time of the season.
Apart from Hession's efforts, it was a somewhat inauspicious start for the Irish in the 200m yesterday, between disqualification of Steven Colvert and the elimination of Amy Foster.
Foster looked a little out of her depth when finishing sixth and last in her heat with a poor 24.04, a long way away from the 22.77 clocked by Mariya Ryemyen of the Ukraine.
Apart from running well below his best with 21.24, Colvert's hopes of surviving as one of the fastest losers were knocked on the head when he was disqualified for a lane infringement -- he was latest to suffer from the tight bends.
"That was a shocking race" said Colvert -- but Hession did not feel comfortable on the bend either.
"It was really difficult to stay in my lane and not to get a red flag," said Hession, who ran with real aggression in a bid to get to the final -- in which he finished sixth two years ago.
It will be another busy day for the Irish today with the heats of the men's and women's 1,500m and heats of both 4 x 400m relays.
Ciara Mageean and Orla Drumm must show plenty of improvement if they are to advance to tomorrow's finals of the 1,500m and it's a similar story for Paul Robinson in the men's event.
Irish in action today
Ciara Mageean , Orla Drumm -- 1,500m heats
Paul Robinson -- 1,500m heats
Ben Reynolds -- 110 m hurdles heats
Stephanie Reilly -- 3,000m steeplechase final
Mark Kenneally, David Rooney -- 10,000m final
Heats of women's and men's 4 x 400m relay
Live, Eurosport, 9.0am; RTE2, 8.0pm