/ Athletics

Ciaran O'Lionaird takes bronze in 3000 metres in Sweden

Updated: Saturday, 02 Mar 2013 19:38 | Comments

Ciaran O'Lionaird reacts to winning bronze this afternoon Fionnuala Britton finished third in her heat of the 3000m Amy Foster (right) in action in the 60m heats
Ciaran O'Lionaird reacts to winning bronze this afternoon Fionnuala Britton finished third in her heat of the 3000m Amy Foster (right) in action in the 60m heats

Ireland's Ciaran O'Lionaird has claimed bronze in the 3000m at the European Indoor Championships in Gothenburg.

O’Lionaird shattered his own personal best time to clock 7:50.40 and just miss out on silver.

It is a 19th medal for Ireland in the history of the European Indoors. 

Hayle Ibrahimov took gold for Azerbaijan, with veteran Spanish runner Juan Carlos Higuero just pipping O'Lionaird to take second place.

Brian Gregan is out of the 400m after being forced off the track following a collision with Ukrainian athlete Volodymyr Burakov.

Irish team officials lodged a protest against Burakov, and despite sustaining a shin injury which required nine stitches, Gregan insisted that that he would run in tomorrow's final if he was reinstated.

However, the appeal proved unsuccessful, as the championship committee decided that Gregan had "changed the direction of his run, intruding in the way of the Ukrainian athlete".

Ciara Everard is through to the final of the 800m. 

Everard pinched third place in 2:03.40 ahead of Lenka Masná of the Czech Republic.

Earlier, Rose Anne Galligan missed out on qualification after finishing fifth in her heat. 

Both Irish competitors progressed beyond their respective qualifying rounds at this morning's session. 

First up was Wicklow’s finest, Fionnuala Britton, tackling the  3000m heats.

Sitting mid-pack throughout the early portion of the race, she elegantly moved her way closer to the front of proceedings after halfway as Sara Moreira of Portugal wound up the pace.

Moreira’s injection split the field apart and five athletes broke clear.

Britton never looked stressed as she sat in third place. She could even afford to glance around two laps from the finish to check her positioning, such was her ease.

Running in full knowledge that she was safely in an automatic qualifying position and with no threat emanating from behind, Britton began to shut her engines down on the last lap, stopping the clock at 9:03.30 for third place.

Her final will call for a marked increase in effort, but she certainly used very little of her reserves this morning.

The final will take place tomorrow morning.

Amy Foster was the second Irish woman in action in the 60m.

Given a tough lane draw with Norwegian medal hope Ezinne Okparaebo nestled on her outside in the starting positions, Foster got a solid start before the Norwegian began to accelerate away from her.

The City of Lisburn athlete kept her form together well out of the drive phase and crossed the line in fifth, matching her personal best of 7.33.

Okparaebo notched a new national record of 7.13 to win the heat.

Foster was then forced to endure an anxious wait to see if her time would be good enough to claim one of the four fastest-loser spots on offer.

Thankfully it was, but she will have it all to do to make it beyond tomorrow’s semi-finals.

No matter what happens in those semi-finals, she has produced her best at the championships and as such, anything from here would be a massive bonus.

Speaking to RTÉ Sport after the race she said: "I know there’s a lot to improve on. If I can get it all right I can go quicker and possibly get an Irish record in there.

"My start wasn’t awful but it can be much sharper. I have definitely plenty to bring tomorrow."

The final will be at 3:30pm tomorrow.

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