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O’Rourke pain at hurdles near miss

Derval O’Rourke was left holding back the tears after just missing out on a medal in the 60m hurdles final but even that heartbreak couldn’t take away from an exceptional day’s work by the Irish team on day one of the European indoors in Gothenburg.

O’Rourke came fourth with a season’s best of 7.95 seconds behind Turkey’s Nevin Yanit (7.89) and only one-hundredth of a second separated her from a silver and bronze — Alina Talay (Bulgaria) and Veronica Borsi (Italy) both running 7.94 for the minor medals. 

“I’ve never been in a major final and not come in the top four,” said a disappointed O’Rourke. “It’s the quickest I’ve ever run since world indoors.” 

The Leevale star ran 7.84 to win the world indoor championships in 2006 and won silver in the 100m hurdles at the European outdoors in Gothenburg the same year. 

She was determined to run the indoor season in order to have a good outdoor season this summer. 

“There are lots of positives. I started really well,” said the Cork woman. “I had to come here and do this. It was tough with the preparation.” 

Visibly holding back the tears she still had some time for a lighthearted reflection on her performance. 

“I just wish the other girls would have run a little bit slower.” 

The championships got off to a good start with high performance director Kevin Ankrom describing the first session for the Ireland team as “a good morning”. 

Not even a ‘burst spike’ in the warm-up or easing down too soon before the line could hamper Brian Gregan (Clonliffe Harriers) in the first heat of the 400m, where he won in 46.97. Second-placed Vitaliy Butrym of the Ukraine was awarded the same time. 

“If I had known he was that close I wouldn’t have eased up so much,” said Gregan. 

“I won’t do that again. I learned my lesson there. 

“Indoors is a bit trickier to actually see. You don’t look back because you’ll fall over. The main thing was I got the win.” 

Gregan has been having difficulties with his spikes and they burst in the warm-up. 

“My spikes barely held up. I’m getting some sent.” 

He’ll be hoping they are sent on time and his coach John Shields said it would have been “a disaster” if he had been passed on the line but is in confident mood. 

“He eased down a bit and was nearly passed on the line which would have been a disaster for him,” said Shields. “It was an easy race today but there are no more easy races.” 

Drawn in lane six of his semi-final he will have Pawel Maslak (Czech Republic) and Nigel Levine (Great Britain) drawn inside him and the message is to “blast it” to get to Sunday’s final. 

“He’ll just have to blast it and go for it. Get to the break first and then hopefully hold on. He still has a plan B if he doesn’t get to the front.” 

Ciarán Ó Lionáird (Leevale) was an impressive winner of heat one of the 3,000m in 7:55.12, which included 1500m European champion, Henrik Ingebrigtsen of Norway. 

“Job done in round one,” said Ó Lionáird. “I blew the cobwebs off from travel and stretched the legs a bit. Time for some fun and games in this final.” 

Stephen Scullion (North Belfast Harriers) missed out on the final by one place in 8:00.78 for eighth in the same heat. John Travers (Donore) disappointed in heat two, running 8:23.83. 

The afternoon confirmed the standing of Irish women’s 800m running with Ciara Everard (UCD) and Rose-Anne Galligan (Newbridge) both winning their heats to advance to today’s semis. 

Claire Tarplee (DSD) finished fifth in her heat of the 1500m in 4:15.16 and Tori Pena (Finn Valley) had another disappointing performance, only clearing 4.16m in the pole vault.

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Feidhlim Kelly

Feidhlim Kelly

Con Houlihan once told me that tomorrow is now. In taking on this venture I’ve started to try and put his words into action.

I worked for Con from 2007 till his passing in 2012 taking down his copy and a whole lot more. I have a Con Houlihan section which will go in to more depth on that.

I’m a long-time contributor to the Irish Runner magazine and am also working for the Irish Examiner.

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