Olympic Athletics: Irish 4x400m mixed make final in hectic race

Tokyo 2020 Team Ireland Athletics
8 July 2021; Phil Healy, left, and Nadia Power during a Tokyo Team Ireland Announcement for Athletics Track and Field at the Sport Ireland Conference Centre in Dublin. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile *** NO REPRODUCTION FEE ***

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Team Ireland had eight athlete’s competing in Day One of the athletics in Tokyo 2020, as well as being part of the first ever 4x400m mixed relay

4 x 400m Relay Round 1 – Sophie Becker, Cillin Greene, Phil Greene, Christopher O’Donnell

The Irish lined up in lane four with decent starting time, the fourth best in the race. The main teams to look out for were the Dominican Republic, Nigeria and the world’s fastest, Team USA.

Greene lined up first for Ireland and ran a very decent race, running a personal best for himself, with the team completing the handover first.

Healy went second for Ireland starting at the top which she held for 200m until the lanes merged. By the next baton handover the top four teams were basically level.

Becker ran next, in which the Nigerian team attempted a different strategy. They used their second male athlete next to give their female a major head start going into the last 400m. Ireland finish the lap in fifth.

O’Donnell was in charge of Ireland’s final run in which he brought blistering pace, overtaking Nigeria with 50m left and holding off an ascending Germany.

Ireland finished the race in fourth, just outside the automatic qualification places, USA first, Dominican Republic second and Belgium third.

But, this is where the race got even more hectic.

Firstly, the world record holding United States team was disqualified. One of their athletes was judged to have started their run outside of the designated area for collecting the baton. This is known as rule TR 24.19, now Ireland sat in third.

Five minutes later and the Dominican Republic were also disqualified. In a more technical rule called TR 24.20, their final runner was seen to illegally change their position in the baton changeover area.

Ireland would have been fast enough to qualify for the final anyway with a time of 3:12.88 but now with these disqualifications, they were second in their heat.

They will now join Belgium, Poland, the Netherlands, Jamaica, Great Britain, Germany and Spain in the final.

The other heat was very fast so they do enter the final as the sixth fastest team. It was a very impressive feat to make the first ever Olympic 4x400m mixed final but hopefully they can find even more energy to leave a mark on the final.

Other Athletic Results for Day One

Women’s 800m heats

Nadia Power – Heat 2 – 2:03.74 – 7th

Louise Shanahan – Heat 3 – 2:03.57 – 7th

Siofra Cleirigh Buttner – Heat 4 – 2:04.62 – 7th

Men’s 400m Hurdles heats

Thomas Barr – Heat 3 – 49.02 – 2nd (Qualified)

LiveScores Now Available at IrishScores.com

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