Tuesday 25 October 2016

Relaxed Barr hopes to emulate Tisdall

400m hurdles final

Thomas Barr
Thomas Barr

Ireland's new athletics star Thomas Barr said an afternoon nap might have been the secret to the best race of his career.

The 24-year-old from Waterford set a national record of 48.39 seconds for the 400 metres hurdles to win his semi-final in Rio and become the first Irish sprinter to reach an Olympic final for 84 years.

And the last one to do so, Bob Tisdall, won a gold medal in the same event at the 1932 Games in Los Angeles.

When he was told this fact half an hour after his race in the early hours of yesterday, Barr said: "What? No way. That's unbelievable.

"To be honest, I can't believe I'm standing here having run a 48.3. I don't know what to focus on, there's too much going on!"

Barr, a gold medallist at the World University Games in 2015, has struggled with injuries this season and failed to make the final at last month's European Championships in Amsterdam, posting a best time of 50.09.

But he described that performance as a "baseline, something to build on" and he has felt his form and fitness returning with every training session since.

Barr praised the work of his coach and physio in getting him ready for the Olympics and said he would be taking the same relaxed approach into today's final at 4pm.

"I thought I'm going to go out there and give it a lash," he explained.

"I thought 'Why do I need to be nervous about this? It's another 400 metres around a track, another 10 hurdles, just like any other race'.

"I don't mean to be cocky or anything but I know I have a strong finish compared to a lot of guys in the world, so I was smiling coming over that last hurdle, thinking 'I have this'. I am delighted," added Barr.

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