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‘I had to work a little harder than I’d have liked, but I got the job done' – Thomas Barr into 400m hurdles European semis

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Ireland's Thomas Barr (right) on his way to winning the 400m Hurdles heat ahead of Ramsey Angela (Netherlands) during day 7 of the European Championships 2022 at the Olympiastadion in Munich, Germany. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Ireland's Thomas Barr (right) on his way to winning the 400m Hurdles heat ahead of Ramsey Angela (Netherlands) during day 7 of the European Championships 2022 at the Olympiastadion in Munich, Germany. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Ireland's Thomas Barr (right) on his way to winning the 400m Hurdles heat ahead of Ramsey Angela (Netherlands) during day 7 of the European Championships 2022 at the Olympiastadion in Munich, Germany. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Fast start, steady middle, strong finish – and with that Thomas Barr is back in a European semi-final. At the Olympic Stadium in Munich this morning, the 30-year-old produced a slick display to coast to victory in his 400m hurdles heat, clocking 49.49.

Barr, a bronze medallist at the last edition of these championships in 2018, had attacked the first bend, eating up the stagger on chief rival Ramsey Angela of the Netherlands, which allowed him to slip into cruise control on the final turn. But when Angela attacked him again coming towards the 10th barrier, Barr was forced to dig in and sprint to the line, edging victory to boost his chances of a good lane in tomorrow’s semi-final.

“It was faster than I thought it’d have to be to get through,” he said. “I wanted to get out relaxed, easy and set it up from there. I had to work a little harder than I’d have liked, but I got the job done.”

Barr’s alarm clock had pulled him from his bed before 7am this morning, given the early timing of his opening round, and he admitted it was hard to get a good night’s sleep after watching teammate Israel Olatunde break the Irish 100m record last night.

“I was wired, absolutely buzzing, to see an Irishman in the final and not only in it, but breaking the Irish record,” he said.

“It’s unbelievable and something to be so proud of. Traditionally we may not have been a nation of sprinters but it’s great to see that coming alive. It gave me such a lift coming in today. It’s amazing to see that younger generation coming through and I’m taking inspiration from watching what they’re doing. I had goosebumps watching it.”

The 12 top-ranked athletes got a bye through today’s heats and while Barr was happy to get a run into his legs before the semi-final, the rule is one he doesn’t agree with.

“I don’t think it’s fair some people get through on times they ran weeks ago and they might not be in form, I think having everyone starting on a clean slate, on the same foot, is better than having an advantage,” he said. “I’d rather have the first run-out, but I’d rather everyone did too.”

Barr believes it will take a “mid-48” time tomorrow to advance to Friday night’s final, but he feels capable of that. He missed out on a place in the world final in Oregon last month, clocking 50.08 in his semi-final after missing five weeks of training due to an Achilles injury earlier in the summer. But with another short training block under his belt since, he feels primed to go much quicker.

“I feel if I can get it right, it’s there, I just need to go out like I did in the first half today but finish the race stronger,” he said. “I feel good, a lot more confident than I did this time in Oregon. I know the faster rhythm over the hurdles is there whereas in Oregon I had to force it and that’s when it went to pot. I felt the gears coming back in training and the rhythm coming back – I’m where I need to be.”

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Meanwhile, Kate O’Connor was a late withdrawal from the heptathlon after sustaining an injury during her warm-up this morning. The 21-year-old won silver at the recent Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and at the European U20 Championships in 2019 and had been due to make her senior championships debut for Ireland at the event.

The sole Irish interest on the track today is Rhasidat Adeleke, who goes in the final of the women’s 400m at 9.02pm Irish time tonight. The 19-year-old Tallaght sprinter qualified after finishing third in her heat in 51.08 yesterday and, drawn in lane one, she will likely have to produce a run quicker than her Irish record of 50.70 to contend for a medal.

There are three Irish cyclists in action on the roads this afternoon, with Joanna Patterson and Kelly Murphy in the individual time trial from 1.0pm Irish time and Ben Healy going in the men’s time trial, setting off just before 5.0pm Irish time.


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