Medal for my family and friends: Mark
Ulster athlete Mark English hailed the support of family and friends after taking bronze in the 800m at the European Championships in Zurich last night.
English produced a battling display, finishing in a time of 1.45.03 – which equalled his season's best – to secure bronze behind winner Adam Kszczot (1.44.15) and fellow Pole Artur Kuciapski (1.44.89).
"It was fantastic. I've been waiting a lifetime for this. I've been training for years to get a medal on the big stage," said English.
"It's fantastic for my family – they have been to every competition. To come here and do it for them and for all my friends back home is brilliant.
"To finish in the home straight with the team in the corner was fantastic.
"I changed my tactics because I went too hard in the semi-finals. I had a lot of energy left in the last 200m," added the Letterkenny runner, who gave up a promising gaelic football career to concentrate on athletics.
English's bronze was Ireland's first medal of the competition.
The 21-year-old came into the race ranked fourth in Europe, having ran a season's best of 1.45.03 at the Diamond League event in New York.
It is a time English equalled at the Stadion Letzigrund last night to secure bronze.
Martyn Rooney recovered from the disappointment of missing out on a Commonwealth medal by leading home a British one-two, teenager Matthew Hudson-Smith underlining his undoubted talent by taking 400m silver.
It had looked like the 19-year-old, who so impressively anchored England to 4x400m glory in Glasgow, would not have a shot at glory for a false start but, after a nervy wait, avoided disqualification.
Hudson-Smith was instead shown a yellow card for not being stable in the set position.
The teen produced a wonderful race, setting a new personal best of 44.75 to take silver behind team-mate Rooney who recorded 44.71.
It was the 27-year-old's first gold medal at a major championship.
"I'm delighted to win it," Rooney said. "It's been a long time coming, – never won a championships in my life, only British trials, so it's great to win on this stage. I'm pretty happy.
"It wasn't effortless. I've got an incredible team around me and without their support we couldn't be here. I've been part of the system for a long time and it's starting to pay off."
Annadale's Paul Pollock leads a three-strong Ulster bid in tomorrow's marathon, alongside Tom Frazer and Kevin Seaward.