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Dublin: 10°C Thursday 22 October 2020

Barr hoping to bring the heat to first indoor season on long road to Doha

The European bronze medallist is targeting qualification for the European Indoor Championships in March.

THOMAS BARR INTENDS to fine-tune his preparations for this year’s World Championships in Doha by getting race practice under his belt during a first-ever indoor season.

Just home from a two-week warm-weather training camp in Tenerife, Barr hopes to compete at the European Indoor Championships on the first weekend of March over the 400 metres flat.

Thomas Barr before the race Barr is targeting a big 2019. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

The European bronze medallist wouldn’t ordinarily include any winter indoor events in his schedule, but the timing of this year’s World Championships — in late September, a month later than usual — means there is time and space in the race calendar.

As the 400 metre hurdles is not an indoor event, Barr hopes to improve his speed over the coming weeks as he builds up towards the European Championships in Glasgow with appearances over the flat at the Athlone International Grand Prix [13 February] and Irish Life National Indoor Championships in Abbotstown [16 and 17 February].

“Because Doha is so late we’ll actually have plenty of time coming out of an indoor season to actually still prepare properly for a full outdoor season leading up to Doha which is a month or six weeks later than normal for a major championships,” Barr explains.

“This’ll be my first time to do an indoor season where I’m going to a championship. I love championships and am hoping that will bring out the best in me on the flat.”

While Barr will no doubt harbour aspirations of following in the footsteps of David Gillick, who claimed two European indoor 400m titles in 2005 and 2007, his main focus is on the Worlds in Doha.

After claiming his first major medal with a third-place finish over the 400m hurdles at the European Championships in Berlin last August, the Waterford native is bidding to build on his success in 2019.

“Training has gone really well the last couple of months since I got back,” Barr continued, speaking at yesterday’s announcement of Irish Life Health’s extended sponsorship with Athletics Ireland.

“I took a couple of weeks off after Berlin and I’ve kind of just been building really well.

“It was nice to get away [to Spain], especially just after Christmas, and get straight back into training focusing solely on athletics in the warmth.

“I could get some technical work done that we wouldn’t have been able to do here on the track and get some hurdling done as well.”

Irish Life Health announced as Official Partner to Athletics Ireland Barr was speaking at yesterday's sponsorship announcement in Abbotstown. Source: Ramsey Cardy/SPORTSFILE

A fourth-place finish in Rio, coupled with last summer’s medal-winning exploits, means Barr is understandably confident and excited about the season ahead, despite the timing of the World Championships, as well as the concerns over racing conditions in Perusian Gulf city. 

“Apparently the stadium in Doha is fairly enclosed and air-conditioned, so I’m not too worried about the heat — I’ve competed in 33, 34 degrees before and I love the heat, the warmth,” he added.

We’re just back from a training camp in Tenerife and at 22, 23 degrees, I loved getting up in the morning and just going, warm and ready to go. That’s not a big concern of mine.

“The concern is that it’s much later and that makes the season a lot longer. That might work in my favour because sometimes I’m a bit slower getting going in the season so it will actually give me extra time to get some quality race practice in.

“I’m taking the positives from it 100% and every athlete is in the same boat and there’s not really much I can do about it.” 

Thomas Barr was speaking yesterday at the announcement of Irish Life Health as an official partner to Athletics Ireland, backing a sport that delivers on health, wellness and lifelong activity.

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