Rio Olympics

Records continue to tumble in Rio heat

Leona Maguire of Ireland, hits from a sand trap on the 11th hole during a practice round for the women's golf event (AP Photo/Chris Carlson).
Malcolm McCausland

After the overnight fireworks of Wayde Van Niekirk’s breathtaking 400 metres world record and Usain Bolt’s unprecedented third 100 title in a row, records continued to tumble in the athletics stadium in Rio yesterday afternoon.

On the hottest day to date during the Olympics and temperatures getting into the 30s Poland’s Anita Wlodarczik threw an amazing 82.29m to take the gold medal in the women’s Hammer.

Britain’s Sophie Hitchon went one place better than her fourth in last year’s World Championships to take the bronze medal with a last round throw of 74.54m. The Burnley woman was a late convert to athletics after spending her early years practising ballet and then netball.

There would have been a second world record in the women’s Steeplechase if Bahrain’s Ruth Jebet (also known as Ruth Chebet) had paid even scant interest to the trackside clocks. The 19-year-old former Kenyan put in an exhibition of front-running to win the gold medal and had she not relaxed after the final barrier could have had the record as well.

Her time of 8:59.75 saw her home over six seconds ahead of the runner-up and less than a second outside Russian Gulnara Gulkina’s 2008 global mark.

Ireland’s Sara Treacy finished 17th in 9:52.70 making her the first track finalist of the Irish to date.

It is still hard to understand the cause of the poor run by Ciara Mageean in the semi-finals of the women’s 1500m in the early hours of Monday morning.

The Portaferry athlete had looked like a world-beaterwhen taking second in her preliminary round heat just two days earlier.

She continued to look at the top of her game during the first three laps of the semi-final and was perfectly positioned on the backstraight for the last time. But the Mondo track seemed suddenly to turn to treacle for Mageean who went on to fade rapidly back to 11th place.

That was well outside the five automatic qualifying spots, but her time of 4:08.07 was just a blink of an eye slower than her fastest time of the season and that came after the inexplicable collapse over the final 200m. Kenya’s Faith Chepngetich Kipyegon was first across the line in 4:03.95.

“I am sorry I didn’t deliver,” said Mageean on her Facebook page. “I will make one promise. This is the beginning; this season is only the start. I will be back and I will be stronger.”

“My dream is to be on a podium, watch the tricolour rise and Amhrán na bhFiann echo through the stadium. I will work tirelessly until I achieve this, that is my promise. I cannot say how thankful I am for all the support I have been given this summer.”

“Great run for Ciara. Eleventh in a time of 4:08.07 in a strong Semi-Final race, just missing out on a place in the final,” tweeted Athletics NI.

Thomas Barr raised the spirits in the Irish camp with an impressive performance in the first round of the 400m Hurdles.

The Waterford man was World Universities’ Games champion last year but got injured earlier this summer just before the European Champions.

However, the Ferrybank athlete looked back to his very best when he finished strongly to took second in the fourth heat of six with a seasonal best of 48.93 seconds.

This afternoon, Ireland’s Tori Peña will be looking to qualify for the Pole Vault final for the first time at her ninth major championships, while in the early hours of tomorrow morning Thomas Barr should continue his good form in the semi-finals of the 400m Hurdles.

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