Phil Healy had no problem doing a good race after a bout of Covid-19. Two, however, was a different story. The Bandon AC athlete finally ran out of gas at the World Indoor Championships in Belgrade, who saw her first major world title final agonizingly slip away when she dropped to sixth in her 400m semifinal in 52.40.
Earlier in the day, Healy had won her run in 51.75 and after hitting the favorable lane six in the semifinals, hopes were high that she could progress. But after getting halfway through fourth place, Healy couldn’t muster anything to fight for a top three spot in qualifying, her legs bankrupt in the last 50 yards, and for a good reason.
Healy had postponed her trip to Belgrade after testing positive for Covid last week, and completed a final “tester session” on Tuesday that she said was “crap”. She then considered retiring from the individual event, but decided, along with coach Shane McCormack, that she had “nothing to lose” by trying.
“That day last week I thought I wasn’t going to be on the plane at all, so look, it’s been an incredible indoor season, under 52s six times, so I have to be happy and bring that outside,” she said. “This race is just indoor running: it’s chaotic. Of course I would have liked to have been further up the field and I wanted to go to the final, but today it wasn’t to be. I will rest now and come back to the relay on Sunday.”
With Molly Scott, the opposite situation developed during the course of the day. The Carlow sprinter, who set a national 60m record of 7.19 earlier this month, snuck into the semis after 7.26 in her run. But by evening she was close to her best time again, finishing seventh in a time of 7:23.
“I was nervous, I doubted myself, but it was a much better race,” she said. “I came here to beat my PB so I’m disappointed. I would have liked to get the (national) record and I got close enough, but not enough. I’ll be coming back here in two years and I know I’ll be up there. I know I can run seven seconds. I was born for it.”
Elsewhere, there were a number of underperformers from those in green. Mark English retired in the men’s 800m after an off-color run. The three-time European medalist was fifth and last in his 1:51.35 run.
“I didn’t have the right preparation,” said English. “I got Covid last week and thought I could come out and run but it has proved to be a bit too much. My winter was going well until about two weeks ago, but I just wasn’t where I needed to be. But I look forward to helping the relay on Sunday.”
Sophie Becker missed the 400m semifinal after finishing third in a chaotic run in 53.47. “It was a catfight through the bell, I was happy with how I ran the first 200 but the junk in front of me messed up my stride pattern,” said Becker. “I’ve lost my rhythm and once you lose it, it’s hard to get it back.”
Sarah Healy looked frustrated after finishing fifth in her 1500m in 4:12.44. Healy lost touch with her rivals in the second half, a problem she blamed on a mental error. “I just let it pass me by, which is really annoying. I should have stayed calm, but sometimes you accept that things aren’t going the way you shouldn’t. You can learn a lot from this. I thought I was past (the size) of that phase, but not yet.”
Darragh McElhinney had a hard time making his debut at this level, finishing ninth in his 3000m in 8:06.31.
“I tried to compete, but I felt like when I got in the top two or three and the guys started to get past me, I wasn’t ready mentally,” he said. “The last few laps were really terrible. Next time I come out here, I won’t put on a performance like that.”
https://www.independent.ie/sport/other-sports/athletics/messy-semi-final-run-sees-phil-healy-bow-out-in-world-indoor-400m-bid-41464251.html In the “messy” semi-final Phil Healy is eliminated from the World Indoor 400m event