Treacy faces biggest test as English exits
Sara Treacy will face the biggest test of her career when she lines up for the women's 3000m steeplechase final today (3.15) after getting a dramatic reprieve from the Rio officials on Saturday.
The 27-year-old Meath woman endured a major stroke of misfortune during Saturday's qualifying heat after she was brought down in the wake of Ethiopian Etenesh Diro's crashing fall.
Treacy rose quickly to her feet after the incident, which occurred with a little over 1000m to run, and continued on to finish 12th in 9:46.24. She had been in ninth place and on course for a big personal best at the time of falling.
Though she expressed reservations initially about lodging an appeal, it was confirmed in the hours afterwards that an appeal had been done on her behalf by Athletics Ireland. "This fall is not going to define my Olympics," said Treacy. "It's all about getting up and get going again."
Treacy, along with Jamaica's Aisha Praught and Diro of Ethiopia, was successful in her appeal and was re-instated to the final along with the 12 athletes who initially qualified.
There was no such joy for Ireland's other two competitors. Kerry O'Flaherty came home 14th in her heat in 9:45.35, a season's best, while Michelle Finn finished fast to snatch 11th place in her heat, though her time of 9:49.45 was not enough to advance.
Meanwhile, Mark English felt his lack of match practice on the big stage due to injury this season caught up with him as his Olympics ended in the early hours of yesterday morning when he finished fifth in a highly competitive men's 800m semi-final.
The Donegal man ran a faster than normal first lap as he tried to stay in contention but he couldn't muster up his usual finishing kick as he recorded a respectable time of 1:45.93 in the third semi-final, which was won in impressive fashion by Kenya's 2012 Olympic champion and world record holder David Rudisha.
The 23-year-old, lining up in lane one, was towards the back of the field but still very much in touch on the first lap on as the Kenyan controlled the pace from the front.
When Rudisha quickened the pace at the 300-metre mark, English struggled to go with the leaders and although he managed to pass Hamada Mohamed, Amine Belfarer and Italian Giordano Benedetti down the stretch, he never looked like qualifying.
"I wanted to go out there and have no regrets," he said afterwards. "I did the best race I could. It was always going to be tough running two races in two days.
"I certainly wouldn't have done anything different. I ran exactly the way I wanted, felt good, but the legs just turned to sludge in that last 200m."
Earlier this year, the UCD medicine student had missed 11 weeks of training due to a metatarsal injury and admitted that this interrupted season had ultimately caught up with him: "I'm always looking to better myself and I focus on the process."