Tuesday 25 June 2019

Athletics: No 'pity party' for O' Rourke after heartbreaking finish

Derval O’Rourke finishes just one hundreth of a second outside of the medals at the European Indoor championships
Derval O’Rourke finishes just one hundreth of a second outside of the medals at the European Indoor championships

Cliona Foley

A FLICKER of a butterfly's wing; that was all really.

Just one hundredth of a second separated Derval O'Rourke (31) from yet another championship medal as the feisty sprint hurdler, who seems to embody her county's Rebel spirit, was pipped for European Indoor bronze last night by the most gut-wrenching margin in sport.

Yet again, in her eighth major championship final in eight years, the Leevale superstar pulled out all the stops in a blistering 60m hurdles final in Gothenburg.

After producing season-best times in both her heat (8.05) and semi-final (8.00) she then ran her fastest indoor time (7.95 seconds) since winning the World Indoors seven years ago. But in an event where medals are decided by the width of a sheet of paper, she was simply beaten on the dip.

To rub salt into the wounds, 7.94 was actually good enough to win silver and bronze, with Belorussian Alina Talay and Italy's Veronica Borsi both given the same time and only separated by a photo finish.

Two-in-a-row European outdoor champion Nevin Yanit took gold in a new Turkish record (7.89) and Talay and Borsi ran a PB and a national record respectively.

Yet again O'Rourke brought out the best in the women around her and was in the medal mix at the death, despite what she called her "most disrupted preparations ever".

She had suffered with a sinus virus that needed three sets of antibiotics and caused her to lose four kilos in one week in December, and also lost training time in November to an Achilles problem.

Yet somehow O'Rourke arrived full of the heart and courage that makes her such a savage competitor when the pressure is on.

"When I crossed the line I thought I had silver because I was next to Nevin.

I got a fantastic start and there wasn't a whole heap wrong with it to be honest," she said.

"I'm gutted because I only like medals. I've never been in a championship final and come less than fourth so that's so frustrating.

"I know 7.97 got a medal at the World Indoors last year when I couldn't break 8.1 so I have to be positive, but right now it's hard," she admitted while refusing to wallow in what she calls "pity parties".

"I ran it to win it, I didn't run it to come second or third, though admittedly I'd love to be getting a medal, but I knew Yanit was the one to beat, that was what I was trying to do." And with her very next sentence she showed why you could power the national grid with her energy, determination and positivity.

"It's not arrogant but my problem is that I don't believe any of those three girls are better than me," she said, with a wry grin. "If I thought that I wouldn't be the woman that I am.

"Okay my preparations were disrupted but people get sick, it happens and I was never going to hide from it. I was going to come here and take a chance." No medal then after the third fourthplace of O'Rourke's career – she was fourth at the 2009 World Championships and edged off the podium also at the European Indoors in Paris two years ago. This one was hardest of all to stomach.

But the two-time European outdoor champion, who turns 32 in May, showed that she's far from finished yet, leaving with renewed hope ahead of this summer's World Championships in Moscow.

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