Mark Carroll won Ireland's first European indoor gold medal since 1979 at the European Indoor Championships in Ghent this afternoon, when he powered home to take the final of the men's 3000 metres in a time of 7:49.70. The 28-year-old Corkman remained boxed in well back in the main part of the field for most of the race, but kicked with just over two laps to go, and sprinted through the field up from fourth into first place to take an impressive win.

The Rhode Island-based athlete becomes the first Irishman to win a European indoor medal since Eamonn Coghlan won the 1500 metres in 1979. Portugal's Rui Silva finished second in a time of 7:49.70. The defending champion, Britain's John Mayock, had to settle for third.

Meanwhile, Karen Shinkins narrowly missed out on a medal when she finished in fourth place in this afternoon's final of the women's 400 metres. The race was won by Svetlana Pospelova of Russia in a time of 51.66. Shinkins time of 53.15 was almost a second behind Helena Fuchsova of the Czech Republic who came third.

High-jumper Brendan Reilly's indoor campaign ended in disappointment when he failed to get over 2 metres 27 this afternoon, effectively seeing him finish last.

Elsewhere, Ireland's Terry McHugh finished third in the javelin final at the Australian national championships in Sydney. McHugh's throw of 76.13m was over 5 metres short of Andrew Currey's winning throw of 81.81m. Meanwhile, in the women's 5000m, Ireland's Braeda Dennehy-Willis also took the bronze in a time of 15:44.03. Her race was won by Australian athlete Anne Cross in a time of 15:36.15.

Carroll's success this afternoon came less than a day after his room-mate James Nolan won Ireland's first medal of the championships. The 23-year-old from Screggan underlined his middle-distance potential as he took silver in the 1500 metres in Belgium. Nolan immediately set his sights on Olympic glory. He emulated the achievement of countryman Marcus O'Sullivan who claimed Ireland's last European indoor medal at the distance when winning silver in 1985. But Nolan, silver medallist in last year's European Under 23 Championships, is confident he can win an Olympic medal - though not in Sydney this September.

"I am looking to win a medal at this distance, not at these Olympics but in Athens in 2004," said Nolan, who clocked 3 minutes 41.59 seconds as Spain's Jose Redolat won in 3:40.51. "People might laugh, but I believe I can be running 3:30 for the 1500m in two or three years' time. But it is great to get a medal at these championships."

In the women's 1500m yesterday, Sinéad Delahunty's brave bid to emulate Nolan's medal ended in defeat as she finished fourth in 4:15.87. Romania's Violeta Szekely struck gold in 4:12.02.