Sarah Lavin celebrates finishing third to qualify for the semi-finals of the Women's 60m Hurdles. Sasa Pahic Szabo/INPHO

Personal-best performance sees Sarah Lavin into world semi-final in Belgrade

The Limerick native will aim to clinch a final spot this evening.

SARAH LAVIN SMASHED her personal best time to reach the semi-finals of the 60m hurdles at the World Indoor Championships in Belgrade earlier. 

The Limerick athlete came third in her heat with a time of 8.03. 

The semi-final is scheduled for this 5.30pm evening. 

“To run a PB on the biggest stage, it’s a bit of an ask to do it at 9am after being up so early,” Lavin told RTÉ, “but I’m obviously thrilled, and I’ll move on now.”

Israel Olatunde performed well in his 60m heat but a fourth-place finish in a time of 6.66 was not good enough for the teenager to advance. 

Síofra Cléirigh-Buttner was left disappointed with her performance in the 800m heat. The Dubliner clocked a time of 2:06:99 to finish fifth.

“Not only is it not good enough, but it’s just not good at all,” she told David Gillick afterwards. 

Tweet by @RTÉ Sport RTÉ Sport / Twitter RTÉ Sport / Twitter / Twitter

In the 1500m heats, Andrew Coscoran and Luke McCann also failed to make a real impression. 

Meanwhile, Yaroslava Mahuchikh overcame the “total panic” of armed conflict in her native Ukraine to win gold in the high jump.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Mahuchikh was forced to flee her home, hide out in a cellar and eventually make the 2,000km trip over three days to Belgrade to face what she dubbed her own front line.

The reigning European indoor high jump champion, who won Olympic bronze in Tokyo and world outdoor silver in Doha in 2019, was forced to leave her home in Dnipro just three weeks ago as the conflict escalated.

She found her way to Serbia after “hundreds of phone calls, many changes of direction, explosions, fires, and air raid sirens”.

israel-olatunde-on-his-way-to-finishing-fourth Ireland's Israel Olatunde on his way to finishing fourth in the 60m heats. Sasa Pahic Szabo / INPHO Sasa Pahic Szabo / INPHO / INPHO

Coming in at 1.88m, Mahuchikh had a failure at 1.92 and two at 2.00 before making the latter height.

She sailed over 2.02 to ramp up the pressure on Eleanor Patterson. The Australian responded by passing, so the bar was raised to 2.04m.

But when Patterson failed at the new height, Mahuchikh was left celebrating in the Stark Arena, where a handful of Ukrainian flags were waved by fans.

Patterson claimed silver with 2.00m, with Kazakhstan’s Nadezhda Dubovitskaya taking bronze (1.98).

serbia-world-athletics-indoor-championships Yaroslava Mahuchikh, of Ukraine, is congratulated after winning the Women's high jump . Darko Vojinovic Darko Vojinovic

Mahuchikh, 20, is one of an all-female, six-strong Ukraine team in Belgrade.

Her teammate Iryna Gerashchenko, who fled her Kyiv with her husband and dog amid “everything at once: bombs and rockets” but no kit, finished fifth in the high jump with a best of 1.92m.

Mahuchikh’s victory came in the absence of Russia’s Mariya Lasitskene, who won gold in Tokyo competing as an accredited neutral athlete.

But Lasitskene was ruled out of the world indoors following World Athletics’ ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine.

- additional reporting AFP 

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