Barr takes positives for Rio after missing out on final
In the end, Thomas Barr simply ran out of time. The 400m hurdler from Waterford exited the European Championships at the semi-final stage last night for the second time in succession, his fifth-place finish in 50.09 not enough to see him through to today's final.
Having made a promising return to action in recent weeks after three months of injury, hopes were high that Barr would contend for a spot in the final, but in truth he was playing catch-up from the outset.
Drawn in lane two, Barr never looked like challenging the leaders, though he remained in contention as the field turned for home, but when he searched for his extra gear over the final two barriers, he came up empty.
"I haven't done much training but I did expect to be running faster today," said Barr. "I didn't have that usual energy in the final straight, which is disappointing."
With five weeks until the Olympics, Barr remains confident that he will be a better athlete with getting another block of training under his belt. "I can take a lot of positives from this," he said. "This takes the target off my back. It was good to get into championship mode and hopefully by Rio I'll be back in good shape. I'll be working extra hard for these next five weeks. I don't know if I'll get back to my very best, but I'll get close."
Barr will next take to the track tomorrow, where he hopes to help the Irish 4x400m team to Olympic qualification. One of his team-mates will be Brian Gregan, who also brought his individual campaign to a close last night, finishing seventh in the 400m semi-final in 46.37.
"It's not where I want to be," said Gregan. "It's been a sh**ty couple of months but I've managed to get it together the last 10 days. I opened with 47.7, and to get back to 46.3 is not bad. I'll get myself recovered and get ready for the relay."
Amy Foster advanced to today's 100m semi-finals after finishing third in her heat in 11.57. "I got the job done," she said. "I would expect myself to get through to the semis but it's a different ball game now."
Marcus Lawler was another to advance in the men's 200m heats, his time of 21.06 helping him to the semi-final as a fastest loser. "I'm into bonus territory now," said Lawler.
Sinead Denny was another to impress, despite bowing out with an eighth-place finish in the 400m semi-final in 53.27, just 0.01 outside her best.
There was no joy for Ireland in the middle-distance events. Karl Griffin was eliminated after finishing eighth in his 800m heat in 1:49.37, while Declan Murray faced a similar fate after finishing sixth in his heat in 1:50.10. Eoin Everard failed to fully recover from a recent illness and was eliminated in the 1,500m heats, coming home 11th in 3:45.46.
Irish in Action Today
Men's 110m hurdles heats (11.55pm Irish time): Ben Reynolds.
Women's 3,000m steeplechase heats (12.30pm): Michelle Finn, Sara Treacy, Kerry O'Flaherty.
Women's 400m hurdles heats (1.15pm): Christine McMahon.
Women's 1,500m heats (5.15pm): Ciara Mageean.
Men's 200m semi-finals (5.50pm): Marcus Lawler.
Women's 100m semi-finals (6.15pm): Amy Foster.