Brilliant Thomas Barr thrills with victory in Athlone as John Travers makes history with sub-four-minute mile
Thomas Barr brought the home crowd to its feet with a superb come-from-behind victory in the men's 400m at the AIT International in Athlone last night, the 25-year-old sealing victory in 46.94 ahead of Portugal's Ricardo Dos Santos.
Barr led after the opening lap but conceded the lead to Dos Santos down the back straight before finding an extra gear to again move to the front in the final metres.
"It was such a brilliant atmosphere," said Barr. "I love performing in front of Irish people who love athletics.
"I didn't have it all my own way, I tried to get to the break first and I did, but down the back straight Dos Santos darted in front of me," said Barr. "I thought I'd leave him have it because I felt strong, and coming down the home straight the crowd was going absolutely mental."
It was Barr's final race of the indoor campaign and he will now prepare for a medal tilt at August's European Championships in Berlin in his speciality event, the 400m hurdles.
"If I can stay in good shape, stay injury-free, it should all work out," he said. "I know I'm in good shape and it's boding quite well."
John Travers etched his name into the record books by becoming the first Irishman to run a sub-four-minute mile indoors on Irish soil, the 26-year-old Dubliner finishing third in 3:59.40.
The race was won by Australia's Ryan Gregson in 3:57.86, and Travers, who in recent weeks had been training for a half-marathon, was shocked to come home under the illustrious barrier.
"Did I think I was going to break four minutes? Not a fecking hope in hell," said Travers. "I'm over the moon. I tied up in the last 100 and I was close enough to making an attack, but I can't complain. It was never on the plan to break four, so I have to take that, and now I'll always be there as the first Irishman to do it here."
Mark English will be thinking along the same lines after an impressive run in the men's 800m last night, the 24-year-old Donegal man just edged for victory by Spain's Kevin Lopez, 1:47.43 to 1:47.48.
"I'm happy to be back," said English, who opened his year with victory at the national championships last weekend. "It's only been a five-day indoor season and I've packed a lot in, so I'm happy to come out with a smile on my face."
Elsewhere, Sarah Healy turned in another outstanding performance to rout her rivals at the Leinster Schools Cross-Country Championships yesterday, the 17-year-old student at Holy Child Killiney racing alone from the outset in a sun-drenched Santry Demesne and coming home a distant winner of the senior girls' 2,500m.