Saturday 16 February 2019

Barr going 'flat out' in bid for Euro indoor glory

Irish Life Health ambassador Thomas Barr (centre) with Patience Jumbo-Gula, Patrick Ryan (8), Ann Marie McGlynn, and Roisin Woods (8) and Michaela Walsh, Joe Gough. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Irish Life Health ambassador Thomas Barr (centre) with Patience Jumbo-Gula, Patrick Ryan (8), Ann Marie McGlynn, and Roisin Woods (8) and Michaela Walsh, Joe Gough. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Cliona Foley

European bronze medallist Thomas Barr will compete in the European Indoor Championships this season for the first time in his career, writes Cliona Foley.

His 400m hurdles speciality is not an indoor event but, given the Waterford star's ability to pull out big performances at major championships, his 400m flat performances in Glasgow (March 1-3) will be closely watched.

"This'll be my first time to do an indoor season where I'm going to a championship. I love championships and am hoping that will bring out the best in me on the flat," he said.

Barr's decision to debut at a 'major' indoors is because this year's (outdoor) World Championships are so late, taking place in Doha, Qatar from September 28 to October 6.

Their extremely late timing and location has caused some reservations among athletes but Barr is not unduly worried.

"Apparently, the stadium is fairly enclosed and they have air conditioning so I'm not too worried," he said.

"I've competed in 30-35 degree heat before and I love the heat. The one concern is that it's much later so it makes the season much longer than usual but sometimes I can be a bit slow to get going in a season so it'll give me more time to get better race practice in.

"I'm taking the positives from it because every athlete is in the same boat.

"We'll have plenty of time coming out of an indoor season to prepare properly because Doha is a month or six weeks later than Worlds usually."

The quarter-mile indoors is an event in which Ireland has excellent history. David Gillick won two European indoor 400m titles (2005, 2007), Paul McKee won World Indoor 400m bronze in 2003 and Maeve Kyle (1966) and Karen Shinkins (2002) both won European Indoor bronze at the same distance.

Just back from two weeks warm-weather training in Tenerife, Barr was speaking at the launch of Irish Life Health's latest partnership with Athletics Ireland where he revealed he will run one novel indoor 400m hurdles event, at the AAI Games in Abbotstown on February 2.

Also in attendance were teen sprint star Patience Jumbo-Gula (17) and talented Mayo thrower Michaela Walsh (20) who will both feature in the Irish Life Health National Junior and Under-23 Indoors in Athlone IT on Sunday.

Walsh won hammer bronze in the 2017 European U-20s but the first-year DCU student revealed that she currently has to take a train to Ashbourne, Co Meath to practise her throws because the throwing facilities in Morton Stadium, Santry are currently unavailable to athletes because they need repairs.

Irish Independent

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