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Appeal fails as Thomas Barr falls short of Olympic final spot in 400m hurdles

Ireland had lodged an objection against Italy’s Alessandro Sibilio.

Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Updated Aug 1st 2021, 3:36 PM

THOMAS BARR’S OLYMPIC dream is officially over after an appeal launched on his behalf failed to see the 29-year-old through to the final of the 400m hurdles.

Barr looked to have crashed out after his fourth-place finish in the semi-final but the Irish team subsequently lodged an objection against the Italian runner Alessandro Sibilio, who was running in the second semi-final.

The appeal was based on Sibilio’s hurdling technique, claiming that he was ‘hooking’ during the race. This move involves dragging the trail leg around the hurdle at a lower height than the barrier.

However, the protest has proven to be unsuccessful due to insufficient video evidence, meaning Sibilio can still progress to Tuesday’s final while Barr bows out.

Barr clocked an impressive time of 48.26 in his semi-final which is the second-fastest of his career and a season’s best time.

He needed to wait for the outcome of the second semi-final to see if his performance was enough to secure qualification but was edged out by Sibilio who took third in a faster time of 47.93.

Barr was competing in a strong field in his semi-final. World champion Karsten Warholm of Norway came home in first place in a time of 47.30 while Rai Benjamin of the USA took second place in 47.37. 

Running in lane six, Barr started strongly but seemed to drift back as the race progressed. 

And despite clipping a hurdle on the final bend, Barr produced a strong finish down the home straight to clinch fourth place.

“That’s the end of the road,” he told RTÉ Sport.

“The plus side is I don’t have to wait for another semi-final to run before I find out my fate. But look, I kind of thought when I hit that hurdle seven that it was going to cost me.

“I literally felt like I was in PB shape, I was getting into the blocks thinking, ‘Yeah, I’m running a PB here and into the final.’ It just cost me a little bit but that’s the hurdles, you can win some, you can lose some.

“There’s so many places you can make up time, so many places you can lose time and today was just one of those unlucky days.

“The fact that the sport has moved on and the event has moved on so much, there’s two guys ready to break the world record and two of them were in my race. All it’s done is pushed the whole event on, it’s pushed everybody on which in some ways is great.

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“In other ways it just makes it that bit more difficult to try and qualify at these championships. That time probably would have been enough to get me into a final pretty much any other Olympics. And possibly do well at an Olympic final.

“The event has come on so much and it’s great so see, it’s great to be a part of it because history is being paved in this event at the moment. It’d be cool to be part of it in the final with them. But just not to be today, just a stretch.”

Barr concluded that his result is all the more frustrating given the great condition he’s in at the moment.

“I just didn’t get to utilise it fully here today. I always rise for championships. I love to come out and challenge and run my best times but it is kind of frustrating and disappointing. I just want to thank everyone for all their support.

“I’m just glad I didn’t get everyone up ridiculously early to watch that.”

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