Ciaran O’Lionaird (Leevale AC) provided the highlight on day two of the European Indoor Championships in Gothenburg, Sweden when he won the bronze medal in the men’s 3,000m. There was delight also for Ciara Everard (UCD AC) as she dramatically made the final of the women’s 800m.
However disaster struck when medal favourite Brian Gregan (Clonliffe Harriers) was involved in a fall and failed to finish in the men’s 400m semi-finals.
High Performance Director Kevin Ankrom said “I am delighted for Ciaran we have stuck with him through the good times and the bad and we are privileged to be able to support him. I am gutted for Brian Gregan as he was so unfortunate and I truly believe he had a chance in the final. Ciara Everard’s performance was excellent and collectively the team have performed brilliantly so far.”
Ciaran lined up the men’s 3,000m with ambitions of achieving a podium position as he took on Europe’s best athletes over 15 laps of the track. The early pace was dictated by pre race favourite Hayle Ibrahimov and Turkish athlete Polat Kemboi Arikan. O’Lionaird at this point was running his own race back in eight position, staying firmly out of trouble. The leading athletes swept by the 2,000m point in 5:19.52 with O’Lionaird now taking closure order.
The race really began when Ibrahimov produced a devastating kick with just over 400m remaining to open up a slight gap on the rest of the field. O’Lionaird was now in full flow as he picked off the athletes ahead of him. When the athletes took the bell with 200m remaining it looked like O’Lionaird may be on for the gold medal as he closed the gap on Ibrahimov.
He continued to apply the pressure and ran strongly to the finish to win a well deserved bronze medal. Ibrahimov managed to hold on for gold with the fast finishing Juan Higuero of Spain taking the silver medal. O’Lionaird’s time of 7.50.40 was a new personal best and Ireland’s first medal at the 2013 European Indoor Championships in Sweden.
Commenting afterwards O’Lionaird said “It was my first competition in the 3000m and I really wanted to win, but these guys were too good. My goal for Moscow (at the World Championships in August) is to get to the final and set a new personal best.”
Brian Gregan who was one of Ireland’s biggest medal hopes heading into these championships suffered an agonising fall during the semi-finals of the men’s 400m. Gregan was drawn in lane six with Czech athlete Pavel Maslak in lane five and British athlete Nigel Levine in lane three. Maslak blasted from the blocks and ate up the stagger on Gregan outside him.
When the athletes made the break for the inside lane disaster struck and Gregan was involved in a tussle with Ukranian athlete Volodymyr Burakov who clipped him from behind. Gregan did his best to stay on his feet however it wasn’t to be and he collapsed dramatically onto the infield of the track. It was a very unfortunate series events for Gregan who suffered a severe spiking as a result of the incident. Coincidently the race was won by Maslak in a time of 46.18.
The women’s 800m saw both Roseanne Galligan (Newbridge AC) and Ciara Everard (UCD AC) take to their marks as they aimed to qualify for the final. The criteria required to reach the final was to be in the top three positions in their respective semi-finals.
Ciara was drawn in the second 800m semi-final as she eyes firmly set on reaching tomorrow’s final. The early laps of the race were dictated by Anita Hinriksdottir of Iceland. At this stage Everard was running strongly in the pack as the leaders reached the bell in 1:32.99.
Both Kotulskaya of Russian and Lupu of the Ukraine started to pull clear and subsequently went on to finish first and second respectively. Everard showed tremendous grit and determination to out dip Lenka Masna of the Czech Republic and grab a coveted spot in the 800m final.
Roseanne Galligan was drawn in the first semi-final as British hope Jennifer Meadows blasted through the first 200m in 28.54. Galligan was sitting back in fifth position at this stage as Meadows continued to apply the pressure and reached the 400m mark in 58.65. Galligan battled all the way to the line and finished in fifth place in a new personal best time of 2:02.84, however this wasn’t good enough to make the final.