Tuesday 12 December 2017

Athletics: Hession joy at making final

THERE was heartbreak and delight in equal measure for two more Irish sprinters at Barcelona's Olympic Stadium last night, when Paul Hession finally clinched that 200m championship final place that has so long eluded him, WRITES CLIONA FOLEY.

Yet, despite running the fastest time ever by an Irishwoman (11.32 seconds), Leevale's Ailis McSweeney missed a place in the women's 100m final by just one hundredth of a second.

The Cork solicitor, sixth in her semi-final won by Germany's Verena Sailer in 11.06, ran 0.8 seconds faster than her recent Irish record of 11.40 but the illegal +2.2 wind ruled it out for record purposes.

But what really killed her was that Russia's Ann Gurova, who beat her on the dip, made the final with 11.31.

"It's devastating, I can't believe it. Once again I needed a dip I didn't have," she said. "I think I let myself down in the last 10 metres, I dipped but I felt I tensed up knowing it was so tight."

In five previous championships, Hession has missed out on final places by fractions of a second, including Olympics and World Championships, but he finally got some luck.

He was only fourth in his semi-final, won by Norway's Jaysuma Saidy Ndure (20.50) and had to wait nervously to see if his time (20.67) would get him through as one of the two fastest losers, which it did with place to spare.

He was subsequently boosted by getting lane two, from which he ran his 20.30 Irish record.

"If I can just get in the mix off the bend I've a shot (at bronze) but I've got to trust my strength in the straight," Hession said. "You dream about championship finals. It's what I have trained for and I'm going to enjoy every minute of it, no matter where I finish."

Alistair Cragg (32) qualified for his second consecutive European 5,000m final, getting through on his 13:13.77 time when sixth, but Mullingar's Mark Christie (25) could not do better than 11th (14:12.68) in the second semi-final, won well by double-chasing Mo Farah.

And after his dramatic qualification to the 800m semis, Kildare PE teacher David McCarthy could only manage sixth, in 1:49.14, well short of the 1:48.06 needed to get through.

Irish Independent

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