Belfast Telegraph

Boyce glad to put best foot forward at Worlds


Ireland's Brendan Boyce
Ireland's Brendan Boyce

By Brian Hill

Finn Valley's Brendan Boyce produced the performance of his life to finish sixth out of a field of 47 in the 50k walk at the World Championships in Doha yesterday.

Boyce had been tipped to excel in these Championships following his best ever season, during which he had produced a series of personal bests. No one, however, thought he would cope as well as he did in the torrid heat of Doha, where the race started at midnight to counteract the conditions.

Despite that, many athletes faded badly and no fewer than 16 failed to finish.

Boyce's coach, former world champion Rob Heffernan, had drafted a plan which worked to perfection. This saw Boyce work through the field over the last 10k following a cautious start.

Boyce, who finished fifth in the European Cup in May, came home sixth in a time of four hours, seven minutes and 46 seconds.

The race was won by Yusuke Suzuki of Japan in 4.04.20.

An emotional Boyce said: "It means a lot and I want to thank everyone who's helped me this year."

Heffernan was delighted to see his plan work perfectly as he didn't want to have to make any excuses for his athlete after watching the women's marathon the previous night where nearly half the field didn't finish.

There was no joy for Irish hurdler Thomas Barr and Letterkenny's 800m runner Mark English.

Barr, who finished fourth at the Rio Olympics, had an assured first-round performance. In his semi-final, he attacked from the start and was well positioned coming into the home straight. However, he was overhauled close to the finish and had to settle for fourth place in a season's best time of 49.02 seconds.

The race was won by Rai Benjamin of the US in 48.52 seconds. Barr finished 10th fastest overall with only eight qualifying for today's final.

A dispirited Barr said: "I am disappointed. It felt fast and I went for it. I was in a good position early on but I didn't feel so good at hurdle nine. This is now a very tough event and I gave my best. I was hoping to get under 49 seconds over this long season but it just didn't happen.

"I'll take a month off and then prepare for the Tokyo Olympics."

Triple European medallist English had a race to forget in the first round of the 800m where he dictated the pace and led at 400m in 51.88 seconds.

He still led with 200m to go but then faded to finish seventh in 1.47.25 in a race won by Kenya's Ferguson Rotich in 1.45.98.

A subdued English, who has beaten the top GB racers this season, said: "I ran my best race possible but it didn't work out. I took the lead as I didn't want to leave it to a fast finish since there were several good sprinters in the race. I'm not blaming the weather as it was okay."

Today's programme involves Irish 200m record holder Phil Healy.

Meanwhile, Kevin Seaward, who finished fourth at last year's Commonwealth Games, produced another superb display yesterday in the Berlin Marathon where he finished 21st in a time of two hours, 13 minutes and 39 seconds, which is the second fastest ever by a Northern Ireland athlete.

This is a Tokyo Olympics qualification time and places him ninth on the Irish all-time list.

√Gideon Kimosop and Emma Mitchell produced impressive displays of running to claim victory at the Bangor Classic 10k which was held in near perfect conditions.

The event, sponsored by George Best Belfast City Airport attracted 950 competitors.

North Belfast took the men's team event from Foyle Valley and Annadale.

Emma Mitchell was in a class of her own in winning the ladies sectionwhile Beechmount, led by Sarah Lavery won the team award from North Belfast and East Down.

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