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Tuesday 14 August 2018

Barr is now set for Berlin

BEST BARR NONE: Thomas Barr of Ferrybank AC competing in the Senior Men 400m event during the Irish Life Health National Senior T&F Championships at Morton Stadium in Santry last weekend. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
BEST BARR NONE: Thomas Barr of Ferrybank AC competing in the Senior Men 400m event during the Irish Life Health National Senior T&F Championships at Morton Stadium in Santry last weekend. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Although the European Athletics Championships in Berlin don't begin officially until next Tuesday, Thomas Barr and at least three other athletes have qualification rounds for their events on Monday evening.

Barr, who is ranked equal fifth in Europe, and is Ireland's best chance of a medal, should navigate the opening round of the 400m hurdles without too much difficulty.

His season so far has gone absolutely to plan with a steady improvement in times and technique and a confidence building run in London a fortnight ago, where he finished in a season's best 48.99 secs. After that came his commanding performance at Santry on Sunday where he won his eighth national title in 49.56 secs.

If he makes it through, Barr will run semi-finals on Tuesday and the final on Thursday. Favourite to take the title is current world champion Karsten Warholm from Sweden who ran a phenomenal 47.65 secs in London.

Others under 49 seconds this season are the Cuban Yasmini Copello who runs in Turkish colours, Ludvy Vaillant from France, Rasmus Magi of Estonia and Mario Lambrughi from Italy.

Assuming his transfer finally comes through, Leon Reid will make his Irish debut in the 100m heats, also on Monday evening.

With a best of 10.24 secs, Reid should qualify for Tuesday's semi-finals. Four European sprinters have broken 10 seconds this season, with Britain's Zharnel Hughes and Jimmy Vicaut from Frances the quickest with times of 9.91 secs. A further eight have gone under 10.10secs.

Adam McMullen will begin his attempt to qualify for the men's long jump final around the same time as the 200m heats. Earlier this season, McMullen was just shy of eight metres at the Irish Indoor Championships. Outdoors he's made steady progress with a best of 7.88m.

Last up of the Irish will be Phil Healy and Gina Akpe Moses who go in the women's 100m heats. Healy's Irish record time of 11.28 ranks her 27th in Europe, Akpe Moses is the European U20 champion and is making her senior debut after a long season. A place in Tuesday's semi-finals for either would be a major achievement.

Healy will also compete in the women's 200m and the relays later in the week.

On Tuesday, the first official day of the championships, Brendan Boyce faces an early wake-up call for the 50km walk.

Newly-crowned Irish 400m champion Chris O'Donnell, one of the younger members of the 42-strong Irish team, will line out in the 400m heats, followed by Claire Mooney and Siofra Cleirigh Buttner in the 800m heats.

Mooney won the 400m at the National Championships in some style, but her best of 2:01.61 this season ranks her only 30th in a strong field where 20 athletes have run under 2:01. Cleirigh Buttner is running after a tough US college season. Topping the rankings is France's Renelle Lamote with 1:58.83.

On Wednesday morning, Marcus Lawler and - with luck - Leon Reid are first up for the Irish in the 200m heats, with semi-finals later in the day, when Emma Mitchell will run the 10,000m.

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