Thomas Barr came within inches of securing an Olympic medal in the 400m hurdles and admitted that it was a "bittersweet" afternoon at the Rio arena, as the Waterford man finished fourth.

Barr set a new Irish record in finishing fourth in the final - and believed that he could have finished on the podium if he had another five more metres at the end of the race. 

The Waterford man race the race of his life and went under 48 seconds, finishing in a time of 47.97, five hundredths of a seconds away from third place and a bronze medal.

Kerron Clement took gold for the USA with Boniface Mucheru Tumuti taking silver for Kenya, while Turkey's Yasmani Copello was the man who pipped Barr for that final place on the podium.

Despite surpassing his expectations for these Olympics, Barr is already looking for ways to improve and admitted that his fourth place finish left him with mixed emotions.

Speaking to RTÉ Sport, Barr said: “It’s bittersweet. I’m absolutely delighted of course to have made it to the final and I’m delighted to see a 47 (seconds) up on that clock, which I didn’t expect.

“I expected to maybe have to get a 47 to have to get a medal but I didn’t know if I had it in me, I didn’t think I had it in me.

“When I was coming over hurdle 10 and I was gaining ground on them, I’d say if I had 405 metres, you’d never know what could have happened - but unfortunately it’s a 400m hurdles race.

“After two runs in the legs already I was coming out here a little bit with dead legs already so I’m delighted with how the race went.”

The miniscule margin between third and fourth place left Barr wondering what could have been, but he believes he knows just how to improve on his time.

“There were one or two little sports where I could have found that .05 of a second that I missed out on a medal.

“Maybe it was a step too far this time around, my first international senior final. Fourth is probably the best and worst place to come, you know.

"I never thought I’d see a 0:47 come up on the clock, especially this year. How many people have run 0:47 in the world? Probably the three or four us in that final."

Barr also paid tribute the very vocal contingent of Irish supporters in the crowd and insisted that their presence gave him an extra boost.

"The first thing I noticed when I came out onto the track were the Irish flags," he said. "Not just buried in the crowd, they were on the line, they were on the side of the track.

"I have to thank the fans for coming out and supporting me. They take time out of their day to come out and shout me on and it gave me a massive boost.

"All the support at home, I knock there were big screens set up in [Univeristy of Limerick] and Waterford, so thanks for the support."