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Israel Olatunde’s outstanding sprint flies by in a ‘blur’ as he reaches 100m semi-final

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Ireland's Israel Olatunde celebrates after winning his 100m heat of the European Championships 2022 at the Olympiastadion in Munich. Photo: Ben McShane/Sportsfile

Ireland's Israel Olatunde celebrates after winning his 100m heat of the European Championships 2022 at the Olympiastadion in Munich. Photo: Ben McShane/Sportsfile

Ireland's Israel Olatunde celebrates after winning his 100m heat of the European Championships 2022 at the Olympiastadion in Munich. Photo: Ben McShane/Sportsfile

It has been coming for years, and for Israel Olatunde it’s finally here. A massive stadium, a large crowd, and a European 100m semi-final. When the 20-year-old UCD sprinter stands behind his blocks at Munich’s Olympic Stadium this evening, he only needs to glance to his left to realise the company he’s now keeping.

Three lanes across will be Italy’s Lamont Marcell Jacobs, the Olympic 100m champion who is looking to climb back to his previous heights after injury scuppered his chances at last month’s World Championships.

Olatunde will need a top-two finish, or to run one of the two fastest overall times in third or fourth, to advance to the final. It’s unlikely, but given what he achieved on the same track yesterday, it’s not impossible.

His European Championships started with a bang – Olatunde winning his 100m heat in 10.19, which was just one hundredth of a second shy of Paul Hession’s national record, Olatunde obliterating his own Irish U-23 record of 10.24.

“It was kind of a blur, but when I crossed the line I looked over, saw 10.1 and was like, ‘Yep, that’s good’,” said Olatunde. “It’s good to run fast but it’s also important to beat the guys next to you, so that’s what I’m going to focus on now.”

There was less joy for Fionnuala McCormack whose medal tilt in the marathon was alive until 35km, after which she began to lose contact with the leading group. McCormack being McCormack, she dug in and clawed her way up to seventh at the finish, clocking 2:29:25, 49 seconds behind gold medallist Aleksandra Lisowska of Poland.

“Disappointing is the only word I can use,” said McCormack. “I expected more of myself and it’s not what I came here to do.”

Next in for the Irish was Ann-Marie McGlynn – 29th in 2:38:26 – while Aoife Cooke was 34th in 2:40:37, the Irish fifth as a team. In the men’s marathon, Mayo’s Hugh Armstrong had a rough day, finishing 58th in 2:25:27, while Eric Favors fell just shy of making the final in the men’s shot put, throwing a best of 19.71m.

There was bitter disappointment for Phil Healy in last night’s 400m heats, the Bandon athlete well below her best and eliminated after clocking 53.10 to finish sixth. “I don’t know what it was, I felt really good up to 320 and I just didn’t have it the last 80,” she said. “53.10 is shocking. I didn’t know what the story was. It’s very disappointing.”

Sharlene Mawdsley clocked a solid 52.63 to finish sixth in her heat, also not enough to advance. Mawdsley only got the call-up to compete last Friday following the withdrawal of Sophie Becker from the individual 400m. “I have to take it; I can’t make the time change,” she said. “It’s disappointing, I think I’m a better athlete than 52.6.”

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There were mixed fortunes for Ireland’s two athletes in the men’s 1500m heats, with Andrew Coscoran advancing on time after a seventh-place finish in 3:38.74 and Luke McCann eliminated after finishing ninth in 3:40.98.

“I’ll go back, wash the singlet, wash the shorts, polish the spikes and get ready for the final,” said Coscoran. “There is a lot of depth but I think I’m in the mix. I’m just as good as many of the guys in the race. It’s going to be fast so it’s about trying to position yourself where you can come through and try snatch a medal.”

Meanwhile in track cycling, Emily Kay finished 10th in the women’s omnium, racking up 113 points, her best result coming in the scratch race, in which she finished third.


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