Sunday 21 October 2018

Healy blows away nerves with strong start in Berlin

Ireland's Phil Healy. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Ireland's Phil Healy. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Cathal Dennehy

With a speedy start, a powerful pick-up and a flying finish, Phil Healy advanced with ease from her heat of the women's 100m in Berlin's Olympic Stadium yesterday evening, the Bandon sprinter coming home second in 11.44 behind Switzerland's Ajla Del Ponte (11.39).

That put a shine on what had been a ho-hum opening day at the European Championships, Adam McMullen and Gina Akpe-Moses failing to advance despite contrasting performances in their respective events.

Akpe-Moses, the reigning European U-20 100m champion, made the giant leap up to senior level and acquitted herself well, rocketing from the blocks before fading to fifth near the finish, her time of 11.63 missing out on a semi-final spot by just 0.02.

"I was so relaxed, I was chilled," said Akpe-Moses, the 19-year-old appearing at home on such a grand stage.

"I was with them for at least 60 or 70 metres but then they pulled away so I need to work on my finish now that I'm competing on this level."

McMullen, meanwhile, was left to rue what might have been after only being able to produce a best of 7.47m in long jump qualifying, which the 28-year-old - who has a best of 7.99m - believed was down to recent technical changes.

Frustrating

"It's frustrating. I'm rolling the dice on whether I have a good performance or a bad one. I have a lot of potential but it's annoying when I can't fulfil it on the big day."

Healy was in much more buoyant mood as she looked forward to this evening's 100m semi-final, where the 23-year-old will need to improve her Irish record of 11.28 to stand a chance of making the final.

"My plan will be the exact same thing, execute my race and not tighten up over the last 50," she said. "Today was a blowout to get rid of nerves. I'm looking forward to getting out again. There's definitely more there."

Brendan Boyce will be first in action for the Irish today in the 50km race walk, an event made all the more gruelling by the extreme heat, with temperatures set to soar to 35C.

On the track, Christopher O'Donnell will be in action in the men's 400m heats, but the Sligo man will need a miracle to advance from his heat, drawn in lane one alongside European heavyweights Pavel Maslak and Kevin Borlee.

Claire Mooney and Síofra Cléirigh-Buttner will be in action in the 800m heats though both will need to be at their very best to advance in the top three places.

While all Irish eyes will be on Thomas Barr this evening as the Olympic finalist gets his campaign under way in the 400m hurdles semi-final, Stephen Scullion should also acquit himself well in the men's 10,000m final shortly after, where a top-10 finish looks possible.

Irish Independent

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