ATHLETICS: Dubliner Brian Gregan battled through to the 400m decider at the European Championships in Helsinki yesterday.
Gregan had won his heat the previous day in a lifetime best of 45.63, and proved that this was no flash in the pan with a determined semi-final run to claim the second automatic qualifying place in 45.76.
It was a hard race and it clearly took quite a bit out of Gregan as he fought tooth and nail to hang on to second place.
"I'm happy with that. I got the job done, which is what these championships are all about," said the Clonliffe Harrier from Tallaght.
"Now I want to get out there and do the same in the final."
Gregan will probably have to muster another lifetime-best performance if he is to get on the rostrum. However, he seems to be able to produce when the chips are down.
Gregan has been allocated a favourable lane five for tonight's final. Paval Maslak of the Czech Republic is in four, while Richard Buck of Britain is in lane eight.
There was more joy for the Barr family from Ferrybank yesterday, with Jessie maintaining her challenge when qualifying for the final of the women's 400m hurdles with a well-timed run to finish a fighting fourth in her semi-final.
Her brother Thomas missed out on making the men's final, but ran his fastest time of the season for fifth in a commendable 50.22.
Jessie might well have bowed out too, but she somehow found fresh reserves in tired legs to come home fourth in 55.93, a personal best that got her into the final as one of two fastest losers.
"I just scraped in, but I'm absolutely over the moon with that," she said.
Ireland's US-born pole vaulter Tori Pena made a promising start to her event with steady clearances up to 4.35m, which she cleared on her final effort.
But then the wheels then came off for the Los Angeles student and three failures at 4.35m left her packing her bags.
However, Pena, who has Donegal roots, has already qualified for London.
Another American-based Irishwoman, Stephanie Reilly, displayed conviction in her heat of the women's 3,000m steeplechase. She put in a strong effort to secure fifth with a time of 9:44.15, earning her a place in tomorrow's final.