Agonising fourth place for Thomas Barr in Olympic final.
For four days last week all Waterford eyes were centred on the Olympic Stadium in Rio as Thomas Barr Graiguearrida Dunmore East a member of Ferrybank AC lined out for Ireland in the 400 metres Hurdles. First up were the heats on Monday and all were wondering what shape he was in after his very much curtailed season due to a recurring hip injury. Unlike 2015 when he won the World University title and competed in several Diamond league meetings against the Worlds best he had just three races this season ,the Irish Championship in June which he retained his title in 50.28 , the heat of the European Championships again in late June finishing second in 50.17 and the semi final of the same competition where he finished third in 50.09. A week before he left for Rio he pulled out of a race in Dublin as a precautionary measure due to a slight niggle. He lined up for the heats in the Olympics with three to qualify automatically and from lane 2 put up a fine show to easily qualify in second spot in a seasons best of 48.93 On Tuesday he was back in the semi finals with 2 certain to qualify and he ran a super race from lane 3 to win in a new Irish record time on 48.39 beating his old mark of 48.65.With a days rest he was back on Thursday in the final running in lane 4 with the third fastest time of the 8 qualifiers, the first Irish athlete in 84 years to make a sprint final.
In the final he faced the favourite Clement from the USA twice World Champion and Olympic silver medallist in 2008, Culson from Peurto Rico twice runner up in the Worlds and bronze medal winner at the London Olympics, Copella a Cuban Running for Turkey who had won the 2016 European Championship in June In addition there were two Kenyan's who had been first and third in this years African championships, a Jamaican World Junior Champion in 2014 and an Estonian twice second in European championships. Drawn in lane 4 as the pistol sounded it sounded again and Culson was disqualified for breaking. next time they were off and in the early stages with a fierce pace up front Thomas seemed well back up to the third or fourth hurdle ,then he began to make an impression and with his customary late finish he came from 6 th to 4th and just missed out on a medal by five hundreds of a second posting a new Irish record again of 47.97 the winner was Clement who was timed at 47.72. By any standards Thomas had a brilliant Olympics and lost nothing in defeat in fact gained the admiration of all with his after race interview showing that even in defeat he had enjoyed the experience in one of the Worlds greatest sporting events and had learned from it In his six races this year he has bettered his time set in successive race. For the record the first four home in a thrilling Olympic final were 1 st Kerron Kelmet USA 47.73 2nd Boniface Tamuti Kenya 47.78 3 Yasmani Copello Turkey 47.92 and Thomas Barr 47.97 No doubt there are many big days ahead for Thomas who learned his trade with Ferrybank AC. In his early years in athletics there was nothing to suggest that he would compete in the Olympics. he tried many events such as cross country , lots of different distances on the track, throwing events and jumping events ,he did in fact show promise in the high jump but to his credit he stayed with it and enjoyed the sport immensely- all young athletes and especially their parents take note. In 2010 he won the Munster u 19 400m hurdles in 59.41 and the Irish u 19 in 61.17 and after this his hurdling career really began.Competing in Rio Thomas has kept up a great tradition for Waterford athletes at the Olympics as since 1980 at least one Waterford and sometimes more has represented Ireland at the Olympics including our Marathon silver medallist John Treacy, Susan Smith our great 400 metres hurdler who missed out on a final by just one place in 1996, Patricia Walsh 9 th in Discus final 1984,Brendan Quinn steeplechase semi finalist 1988, Jamie Costin 50 km walk qualifying for three Olympics and of course Jessie Barr the sister of Thomas was there in 2012. At National level Waterford athletes win at least three and sometimes up to seven All Ireland Senior titles each yea,this year they won 4. We do have an Olympic gold and silver medallist that spent the majority of his life in Waterford Peter O'Connor who won the triple jump and was second in the long jump in the IntercalatedGames of 1906. In athletics there are 214 countries affiliated to the International Athletics Federation and a tiny country like Ireland with a small Athletic membership has more than held its own at the Olympics with four gold medals and two silver won since we became an Independent State ,hopefully in 4 years time Thomas can join this famous group and that his deeds in Rio will be a source of inspiration to those that work to promote Athletics in Waterford and indeed to all our young athletes.
National Masters results
Results by Waterford athletes at National Masters Championships in Tullamore last Sunday in various age groups, Waterford AC; Tom O'Brien 1 st in long jump and second in high jump,Paschal Halley 2nd in 110 m hurdles, and long jump,3rd in high jump and 400m,Walter Keane second 800 m, Brendan Leahy 2nd 200 m.Relay team 2 nd.Ferrybank :Tom Boucher 1 st in hammer 2nd in shot ,long jump and javelin 3rd in discus, Pat Kennedy 2 nd hammer, West Waterford; Gregory Fitzgerald 2 nd in 200 m, Ml Tutty 2nd in javelin,Tramore Shirley Fennelly 3 rd long jump. At the National Communiy Games in Athlone Corey Scanlon FiniskValley was 4 th in the 200 m under 10.Raivis Zakis and Philip Harty both West Wateford recorded a great double last Saturday morning at the East Cork Half and Full marathon race. Raivis won the full marathon in a time of 2.51.44 while Philip won the half in 1.15.41
Final Race of Series
Last Friday evening the final race in The Ger Wyley Sports Skins Seriestook place in Dungarvan and 210 competed It was the 22 nd Annua lGlaxoSmithkline 5 miles and first home was James Ledingham West Waterfordin 27 minutes and 3 seconds ,Danny Smyth Balynonty was second in 27.26 and David Ryan Clonmel third in 27.32'. First lady home was Sylva Malone Waterford in 30.01, Adele Walsh St Senan's was second in 30.01 and JoanEnnis Grange/Fermoy was third in 31.48 The category winners were a sfollows ;Men M40 PJFScollard Waterford, M45 Ger Murray Ind, M50 Ray Hahesy West Waterford ,M55 Gerry Cantwell do, M60 Joe Gough do, Junior Niall Blackwell do .Women F35 Mary Molloy CK on Suir, F40 LyndaMurphy Gtrange /Fermoy, F 45 Brigid Coffey Ind, F50 Anna Byrne Clonmel, F55 Mgt Cunningham West Waterford Junior Órna Keane Ind. The proceeds go to Make A Wish Foundation
Waterford AC Mile Evening
The second and final series of mile races at the RSC on Thursday last promoted by Waterford AC in different grades was most enjoyable with a big increase in entries over the first series .Results Race 1 1st Evan Marshall 5.57.3 2nd Hilary O'Connell-Murphy 6.31.7 3rd John P Brophy 6.50.7,Race 2 1 Ml Kearney 5.53..5 2 Ken Browne 5.53 .9 3 Megan Mc Carthy5.58.6,Race 3 1 Frank Quinlan 4.47.7 2 Brian Cuddihy 4 57.1 3 Shane O'Reilly 4.58.6..Total timing the sponsors.
Ballyduff Lower Road Race this Friday
The Annual Ballyduff Lower Liz Hayes Memorial 5 miles Road Race is on Friday next at 7 pm.Entries in Ballyduff from 5.30 pm