Belfast Telegraph

Christine scales new heights in European glory bid

By Brain Hill

Christine McMahon put the Commonwealth Games experience behind her with a superbly aggressive display of running in yesterday's 400 metres hurdles heat in Zurich where she qualified for this evening's semi-finals (5.10pm).

The QUB student finished third behind winner Vera Barbosa of Portugal who took victory in 55.85 seconds.

Despite the poor weather conditions, Christine's time of 57.16 seconds was her second fastest ever – she achieved a PB of 56.97 in May.

This more than made amends for the Ballymena AC hurdler's performance in the Glasgow Games where a late change in her hurdling stride technique prior to her race proved to be misjudged.

Christine's race in Zurich was not without controversy as Denmark's Sarah Petersen was disqualified for a false start.

This was followed by a dramatic fall over the last hurdle by Hanna Ryzhykova who crashed into Christine's lane.

The 22-year-old had to frantically side-step to avoid the Ukrainian and, in the process, nearly ran out of her lane.

However, after some deliberation, the organisers allowed Christine's third place to stand.

A euphoric Christine said last night: "I'm delighted with that performance.

"The conditions weren't ideal. Also, there was a false start and then the girl beside me fell into my lane.

"I was just 0.2 seconds off my PB. I'm happy with that. It was a solid enough run.

"I'll focus on the semi-final. I'm going back to eat and concentrate on tomorrow," she added.

Top sprinter Amy Foster of Lisburn AC did not have quite the same good fortune in her 100 metres semi-final.

She was drawn in a very tough race and, after her usual good start, faded in the second half of the race. She will be disappointed with her time of 11.79 seconds for eighth place, albeit against a wind of 1.9 metres per second.

The race was won by Myriam Soumare of France in 11.03 seconds. Soumare went on to take silver in last night's final with Great Britain's Ashleigh Nelson claiming bronze in a race won by Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands.

In the men's 400 metres hurdles semi-finals there was disappointment for Ireland's Thomas Barr who could only finish third in 49.30 seconds which was insufficient to make the final as a fastest loser.

In the 400 metres Brian Gregan was unfortunate to be eliminated in his semi, finishing sixth in a season's best 45.81 seconds.

In the men's 800 metres semis, Letterkenny's Mark English had something of a scare but progressed to the final with the fastest loser spot when he finished fourth in 1.46.23 behind Pierre Bosse of France who won in 1.45.94

Meanwhile, Mo Farah became European champion over 10,000 metres just six weeks after collapsing in his bathroom and being airlifted to hospital. Farah won in 28 minutes 08.11 seconds, with British team-mate Andy Vernon taking silver.

"It meant a lot to me," said Farah. "I was really ill a few weeks ago but training has gone well.

"I didn't want to let people down after missing the Commonwealth Games.

"Now I'm excited for the 5,000 metres and hope to run well.

Farah got a celebratory hug from Jamaican star Usain Bolt.

GB's Tiffany Porter won the 100 metres hurdles in 12.76, while team mate James Dasaolu won the 100m in 10.06. Harry Aikines-Aryeetey of GB was third.

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