Sunday 26 May 2019

Barr storms to stunning Geneva victory as impressive English stays on the rise

Thomas Barr
Thomas Barr

Cliona Foley

THOMAS Barr and Mark English underlined why they are the most exciting young prospects in Irish athletics right now with two world-class, early-season performances.

Rising Ferrybank star Barr broke the Irish 400m hurdles record for the second time in two weeks when he won in Geneva, where he beat the defending European champion Rhys Williams.

Barr's world-class time of 48:90 not only knocked half a second off his two-week -old national record and was five-hundredths faster than Williams, but it put the 21-year-old from Dunmore East top of the European rankings and is also the seventh fastest time in the world this season.

It was only Barr's third run this summer and the young engineering graduate didn't have the easiest of trips to Geneva as his first flight got cancelled.

Equally promising was Mark English's performance in finishing second behind world 800m record holder and Olympic champion David Rudisha at the Diamond League in New York.

Rudisha won in 1:44.63 and while English's 1:45.03 was only his third fastest time ever, it puts him fourth on the European rankings.

Particularly impressive was the tactical acumen and maturity he showed in such a world-class field, overtaking America's Duane Solomon and Poland's Marcin Lewandowski with his final kick.

It was also a good weekend for Fionnuala Britton, who showed a return to form by knocking more than four seconds off her 3000m personal best when running 8:50.80 at the Irish Milers Club meeting in Ringsend.

Limerick sprint hurdler, Sarah Lavin (UCD), who has just turned 20, also produced a PB and European qualifying time when she was third in Geneva with a time of 13.23, a particularly good one considering it was into a -3.3 headwind.

Cork sprinter, Phil Healy, ran a PB of 11.53 in the the 100m heats in Geneva, where Craig Lynch was the fastest Irishman over 100m (10.64) and Steven Colvert's second place in the 200m (20.90) confirmed his European qualification.

Brian Gregan opened his 400m season with 46.06 to finish second to Britain's Andrew Steele in Geneva and Kelly Proper, who won the long jump with 6.45m, came agonisingly close to the 200m European qualifying mark with a new 23.38 PB.

Ireland's 4x100m men's team won in Geneva in a season best 39.88, while the women's 4x100m were second behind Switzerland in 44.45, but the junior 4x100m men failed to finish due to injury.

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