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Phil Healy celebrates her semi-final win.
Phil Healy celebrates her semi-final win.
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Phil Healy storms into European final after stunning semi-final win

There was also success for Mark English and Cian McPhillips who both qualified for the semi-finals of the men’s 800 metres.
Mar 5th 2021, 7:11 PM 19,376 5

Updated Mar 5th 2021, 7:14 PM

PHIL HEALY’S PROSPECTS of winning a European indoor championship medal increased significantly this evening after the Irishwoman won her 400m semi-final.

In a dramatic race, the 26-year-old retained her composure from the off, avoiding the temptation to burn off unnecessary energy in the opening lap when Britain’s Amarachi Pipi  set a lively pace.

That tactical maturity was also evident in the second lap when Healy stepped into lane two to give herself a little more space to attack Pipi down the back straight.

Rounding the bend to home, a second rival, Romania’s Andrea Miklos emerged, the significance of which won’t have been lost on Healy, as only the top two qualified for the final.

Healy would be one of those as she showed strength and speed in the finishing straight, timing her dip to perfection to finish a fraction of a second ahead of Miklos, winning her semi-final in a time of 52.41.

That victory won’t just be good for her morale. First place also means a better lane draw, a critical issue in indoor sprinting, as she prepares for her date in the final. Healy’s time was the fifth fastest of all the qualifiers for the final, scheduled for tomorrow at 7.25pm Irish time.

There was further success for Ireland when both Mark English and Cian McPhillips made it through their heats to reach the semi-finals of the 800m; McPhillips recording a time of 1.49.98, as he finished second behind Mariano Garcia. John Fitzsimons, back in action after 18 months out, ran bravely but finished fifth in his heat. 

Afterwards English told RTÉ: “I lost my balance a little bit in the race but still, the job was done.

“My speed is there; my endurance is there so it is just a matter of putting all that together now. My coach quoted a Jack Charlton line to me just before I went out, saying ‘it will be tough for us but it will tough for them as well’.

“This is a great opportunity to get some qualifying points for the Olympic Games this year. I would obviously like to make the final but this is the toughest European championships that I have ever competed in. But I will give it a good shot.”

McPhillips’ performance was exceptional. Staying patient, he delayed making his move to the third lap and then cruised past the field, going from seventh to second place in the third lap. His composure never left him as he eyeballed Garcia down the stretch, proving there was plenty left in the tank for tomorrow’s semi-final.

In tonight’s 1500m men’s final, there were credible performances from the two Irishmen in the final, Andrew Coscoran and Paul Robinson, who finished sixth and ninth respectively after the hot favourite, Jacob Ingebrigtsen was disqualified.

The gold went to local athlete, Marcin Lewandowski, 33, who became the first athlete in championship history to win European indoor titles at 800m, 1500m and 3000m.

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After a bumpy opening couple of laps, when the 13-man field struggled to find any space on the tight track, Ingebrigtsen broke clear and set the pace from the third lap onwards, Lewandowski keeping him company all the way.

Two laps from home, both Coscoran and Robinson made their moves – and while they made serious progress on the penultimate lap, Coscoran getting as high as fifth at one point, they ran out of gas in the final lap, Robinson coming ninth, Coscoran sixth.

Still, for Robinson, after seven years of injury hell, this was a success rather than a failure.

“My initial reaction is disappointment,” he told RTÉ afterwards, “but it is seven years since I was last in a major championship.

“So, in that context, it is good to be back at this level. We went for it, Paul and I, with about two laps to go because bronze was still not decided at that stage and you come here to have a go, not to run around at the back of the field. Ultimately, we paid for it (energy wise). But we tried.” 

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Garry Doyle

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