Challenging day for Irish athletes in Istanbul

Jakob Ingebrigtsen of Norway on his way to 1500m golf at the European Athletics Indoor Championships at Atakoy Arena in Istanbul
Jakob Ingebrigtsen of Norway on his way to 1500m golf at the European Athletics Indoor Championships at Atakoy Arena in Istanbul

IT was a challenging second day for Irish athletes in action at the European Indoor Championships in Istanbul. One ninth and one 10th place was little to show from the six on duty in the green vest.

It was a case of what could have been for Kate O’Connor in the pentathlon with her own Irish record in sight until the fifth and final event.

The 22-year-old Dundalk athlete opened with an 8.64 clocking (987 points) in the 60m hurdles, followed by a best clearance of 1.74m (903) in the high jump before a personal best mark of 14.37m (819) in the shot left her in eighth place at the break.

The Commonwealth silver medallist returned in the afternoon and a long jump of 5.91m added another 822 points to her total, lifting her into seventh.

Unfortunately, a relatively poor 2:20.08 (822) timing in the 800m saw her slip back to ninth with a cumulative score of 4353, some 43 points shy of her own national record set at the end of January.

World and Olympic champion Nafi Thiam of Belgium did not disappoint, taking the gold in a global record of 5055 points.

Luke McCann did well to reach the final of the 1500m where it was obvious that there would be difficulties with 12 men of similar standard on the track at the one time. It was no surprise then that there were two fallers in the opening laps with McCann doing his best to keep his feet in the middle of the pack.

Up front defending champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen was avoiding the rough house behind him by controlling the race from gun to tape in a championship record 3:33.95.

McCann was briefly fifth at the kilometre mark but faded to finish 10th in 3:44.55, about 10 seconds slower than he ran last weekend in Birmingham.

Sharlene Mawdsley made the mistake of ceding passage to her rivals at the bell in the 400m semi-final and was never subsequently in contention for one of three automatic qualifying spots as world record holder Femke Bol of the Netherlands led the field home in 52.19.

Mawdsley was better than her sixth place in 53.37 seconds.

The morning session started on a mixed note with Mawdsley the only one of Ireland’s three 400m runners to progress from the first round heats. Despite hesitating at the break from lanes, the Newport AC athlete was runner-up in her heat to gain an automatic qualifying spot in 52.59 seconds. All three will return to the track tomorrow for the 4x400m relay.

Sophie Becker was unfortunate not to progress on time after clocking 53.43 for third in her qualifier while Cliodhna Manning was fifth in her heat registering a time of 54.21. Joan Healy was also out of luck in the 60m, eliminated at the first hurdle after a fifth place finish in 7.41 seconds.

Five other finals were decided yesterday. Germany’s Hanna Klein out-kicked Konstandze Klosterhalfen to strike gold in the women’s 3000m (8:35.87), Italy’s Zane Weir (22.06m) claimed the shot title while the women’s shot went to Portugal’s Auriol Dongmo (19.76m).

Portugal claimed a second gold through Pedro Pichardo in the triple jump (17.60m) and Switzerland’s Mujinga Kambundji rounded off the evening programme with a convincing win in the women’s 60m, equalling the championship record of 7.00 seconds,

Today sees Ireland’s fastest man Israel Olatunde enter the fray in the men’s 60m heats. Darragh McElhinney is in action in the 3000m heats with Sarah Lavin scheduled to follow him on the track in the 60m hurdles eliminators.