Tuesday 20 August 2019

Barr's eyes on Tokyo prize as Adeleke wins gold

Thomas Barr. Photo: INPHO/Billy Stickland
Thomas Barr. Photo: INPHO/Billy Stickland

Cathal Dennehy

It's been almost three years since the best run of Thomas Barr's career - the stunning 47.97 he ran to finish fourth in the Olympic final - but these days the only way he'll load up the video is to study his technique, dissect his rhythm.

With one year to go until the Tokyo Olympics, that's the only value it has for him right now. Barr will turn 28 on the day of the opening ceremony next year, and if there's one birthday wish he has it's to get to Japan ready to repeat the heroics of Rio.

In 2016 he became the first Irishman for 84 years to reach an Olympic sprint final, but on occasion he still wonders what might have been. He finished just 0.05 outside the medals and, with silver medallist Boniface Tumuti of Kenya barely seen since, Barr sometimes wonders if he could have been swindled.

"He completely disappeared, but I wouldn't dwell on it because there's nothing I can do about it," he said at the launch of Indeed's #TalentUnleashed campaign.

Dozens of Kenyans have failed doping tests in the years since and the country was at risk of expulsion from major competitions if it didn't get its anti-doping system in order.

"It's frustrating, especially considering Ireland has one of the best anti-doping programmes," he said.

"There's millions pumped in every year and I'm tested quite regularly - it'd be nice to know it's done across the board. But if there is anyone on drugs, if I can go out there and beat them it's more satisfying."

His season to date has been a slow burner. Barr racked up a series of strong finishes on the Diamond League circuit but his best time of 49.11 is two seconds off world champion Karsten Warholm, who ran a European record of 47.12 last weekend.

But with two months until the World Championships in Doha, Barr believes he can close much of that gap. "If he can do it, as a European, I think maybe it's achievable," he said.

On Sunday evening Barr should coast to his ninth straight title at the Irish Championships in Santry. He will then race the European Team Championships followed by Diamond League races ahead of his big 2019 target: the World Championships.

"If I can get myself into the final, I'd like to think I could challenge for medals," he said.

Meanwhile, sprinter Rhasidat Adeleke stormed to gold in the girls' 100m at the European Youth Olympic Festival in Baku, Azerbaijan yesterday, the 16-year-old clocking 11.70.

Israel Olatunde finished seventh in the boys' 100m final in 10.82, while Diarmuid O'Connor finished sixth in the decathlon with 6,762 points. Ciara Sheehy finished 10th in the shot put final with 15.10m. Swimmer Molly Mayne reached the 200m breaststroke final after a PB of 2:30.06, while in the boys' cycling time trial Mark McGarry finished 31st.

Irish Independent

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