Saturday 19 October 2019

Barr within a whisker of world final

Ireland's Thomas Barr competes in the Men's Semi-Final 400 Metres Hurdles. Photo:: Martin Rickett/PA Wire
Ireland's Thomas Barr competes in the Men's Semi-Final 400 Metres Hurdles. Photo:: Martin Rickett/PA Wire

Cathal Dennehy

Thomas Barr came within a tenth of a second of making his first world championship final in Doha, Qatar yesterday. The 27-year-old finished fourth in his 400m hurdles semi-final in 49.02.

Barr needed a top-two finish to go through automatically or alternatively had to run at least 48.93 to qualify on time, but despite a strong start he was just outside both of those as he crossed the line in fourth place. The race was won by the USA's Rai Benjamin in 48.52.

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"I'm disappointed, I thought it was going to be faster," said Barr. "I really went for it over that first 200 and maybe it cost me a little in the home straight. I was in contention and I was in position to strike but when I went to open up over hurdle eight and nine I just didn't have that same strength of yesterday.

"It was a tough race but I'm happy to say I came away and gave it my best. It's one of those years, but I'll use it as fuel for the fire for next year."

Mark English's championships came to an abrupt end in the first round of the men's 800m, the three-time European medallist bowing out after finishing seventh in his heat in 1:47.25. English adopted an unusual tactic for him and took the race out hard, moving to the front around the first bend and passing 400m all alone in 51.89.

However he simply didn't have the strength to hold it over the final 200 metres when the Donegal man was passed by the entire field. "I decided to put myself in contention for one of the six fastest-losers' spots but it didn't work out, obviously," he said.

"It wasn't worth waiting for anyone so I decided to go for it. I'll have to sit down and look at everything this season and see what I can do for next year."

English completed his medical studies in UCD earlier this year and he said yesterday that he remains undecided about where he will base himself for the upcoming year ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.

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