DONEGAL’S Mark English is through to the final of the 800M in the European Championships in Zurich.
The Letterkenny athlete was a second faster than in the heats, but just made into the finals.
With a run of 1:46.23 he was pushed into the fourth from second by Artur Kuciapski of Poland (1:46.05) and Switzerland’s Andreas Bube (1:46.09). France’s Pierre-Ambriose Boose led all the way and won in a time of 1:45.94.
English admitted afterwards that he “tied up a bit” towards the end of the race and had never been as nervous as he was beforehand.
“I’m just delighted to have made it into the final,” said Mark afterwards.
“I was nervous; there’s no doubt about it. But it’s my first major final and I’m looking forward to it now.”
Ireland’s athletics manager and fellow Donegal man Patsy McGonagle said he was ‘just delighted’ for the 21-year-old on qualifying.
English was drawn in the first semi-final and needed to be in the top three positions to be sure of a place in the final. He ran a tactically smart race tracking the leaders every move.
It was only in the last 50m that English began to struggle as he slipped down to fourth place.
However there was joy for English as the second semi-final was much slower meaning he qualified for the final as a fastest loser.
Commenting afterwards English said: “The aim coming in was to make the final so I am happy with that; it’s a relief now to be in the final. Of course I wanted to be in the top three but that doesn’t matter now. I’ll recover and give it my best in the final.”
English’s performance means he becomes Ireland’s first 800m finalist since1998 when James McIlroy (cousin to golfer Rory) placed fourth.