Classy English sets the early mark in Prague
Mark English looks to be the man to beat in the 800 metres at the European Indoors in Prague after winning his heat yesterday.
English and Poland's Marcin Lewandowski looked a class apart yesterday when the Irishman's winning time of 1:48.10 was the day's fastest, while the Pole won in 1:48.56 and the remaining five heats didn't break 1:59.
The draw has kept them apart in today's semis, but with only two from each going through to tomorrow's final (2.30pm), English will likely impose himself from the front more than yesterday, where he chose not to chase a fast early pace.
But the strength he showed to come through on the final lap and his quiet confidence looked really significant.
Clonliffe's Irish-American Declan Murray (Clonliffe) did well to also make the 800m semis, finishing second in his heat in 1:48.32 but he's got a tough draw against Sweden's Andreas Almgren and Spain's Kevin Lopez.
Dara Kervick (23), from Piltown, impressed on his senior debut.
The way the Clonliffe rookie won his 400m heat (in 47:03) and then went with defending champion Pavel Maslak in his semi showed great guts but getting to the break in only third cost him.
His fourth-place time (49:96) would actually have won the third semi-final.
However, putting back-to-back rounds together was impressive. Fellow-Noresider Ciara Everard (UCD) finished third, with a season best 2:02:69, to make today's 800m semi-finals but got a really tough draw against top Briton Jenny Meadows and Icelandic prodigy Anita Hinrikdottir.
Leitrim's 60m hurdler Gerard O'Donnell only finished sixth in his heat in 8:06 and Annadale' Paul Pollock also failed to progress, despite a PB of 7:58.78 when 10th in his 3000m heat.