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Saturday 10 December 2016

Irish hearts broken as heroic hurdler Thomas narrowly misses Rio medal

Thomas Barr acknowledges the Irish fans cheering him on in Rio Picture: Sportsfile
Thomas Barr acknowledges the Irish fans cheering him on in Rio Picture: Sportsfile

Waterford hearts were broken for the second time in five days as hurdler Thomas Barr (24) missed out on an Olympic medal by just millimetres in Rio.

Waterford hearts were broken for the second time in five days as hurdler Thomas Barr (24) missed out on an Olympic medal by just millimetres in Rio.

Ecstasy turned to agony in the space of just five-­hundredths of a second yesterday as Thomas's youngest sister, Becky (22), initially thought he had clinched an Olympic bronze medal in the 400m hurdles only to realise his incredible charge to the line had fallen just millimetres short.

Proud

Surrounded by 150 cheering supporters of Thomas's club, Ferrybank AC, in The Cove Bar in Waterford, Becky was defiantly proud of her brother.

"He ran the race of his life," she said. "He couldn't have done anything more. I'm so proud of him. Everyone is so proud of him."

Thomas's older sister, Jessie, Ferrybank's first Olympic athlete who competed at the London 2012 Games, was inconsolable as she contributed to RTE's Rio coverage. Her brother set a new personal best and a new Irish record, but still missed out on a medal.

"It was such an incredible race ... he ran his heart out but he just needed another metre or two at the finish. If he'd had that he absolutely would have taken third," she said.

But Jessie couldn't hold back the tears for her brother in an overwhelming mixture of immense pride and deep frustration.

Five days after Waterford's hurlers lost to bitter rivals Kilkenny in the All-Ireland semi-final, the Deise were once again left agonising over how unfair sport can sometimes be.

But Ferrybank AC members were resolutely proud of Thomas's new Irish 400m hurdles record and his Rio heroics, while utterly heartbroken that he missed out on a medal by such a tiny margin.

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