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'One of the greatest Irish performances' - Stunning Thomas Barr reaches 400m hurdles final

The Waterford native finished first at the Rio Olympics and set a new national record in the process.

Ireland's Thomas Barr celebrates after coming first in his semi-final.
Ireland's Thomas Barr celebrates after coming first in his semi-final.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Updated at 20.48

IRELAND’S THOMAS BARR qualified for the 400m hurdle final at the Rio Olympics tonight, finishing first in his semi-final.

The Waterford runner triumphed with a time of 48.39 — a new Irish record.

He now has a rest day before participating in the final in two days’ time.

It’s the first time since 1932 that Ireland have had a finalist in the 400m hurdles when Bob Tisdall won gold.

The feat is all the more remarkable given that Barr’s season has been heavily disrupted by injury problems, with few tipping the Irish athlete to earn a final spot.

Watching on in the RTÉ studio, Irish former sprint hurdles athlete Derval O’Rourke hailed the achievement as “one of the greatest Irish performances”.

The Ferrybank AC runner overcame strong competition from Kenya’s Haron Koech, who finished second with a time of 48.77.

Barr goes into Thursday’s final with every chance of a medal — in all three 400m hurdles semi-finals, only USA’s Kerron Clement (48.26) and Jamaica’s Annsert Whyte (48.32) earned superior times.

The final takes place at 4pm Irish time.

Speaking after tonight’s race, Barr expressed delight at the achievement.

“I’m astonished. After all the mishaps over the last year with injuries, to win a semi-final and get a national record is incredible,” he said.

“I didn’t think I could run half a second faster than yesterday.

“I’ve put a target on my back for the final. When is it? I haven’t even looked.”

24-year-old Barr previously put in a season’s best time to qualify for the semi-finals.

Additional reporting by Niall Kelly in Rio

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Paul Fennessy

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