Mark English has qualified for the final of the 800m at the European Track and Field Championships in Zurich.
English came home in fourth place in the first semi-final in a time of 1:46.23 and had to wait until after the second semi-final to see if he was to obtain a place in the final as one of the fastest losers.
The first three in each of the two semi-finals were due to qualify for Friday’s final, along with the two fastest losers.
English came in just behind France’s Pierre-Ambroise Bosse on 1:45.94, Artur Kuciapski with 1:46.05 and Andres Bube from Denmark, who clocked 1:46.23.
However, English’s time was better than the winner of the second semi-final, Adam Kszczot from Poland, who came in with 1:47.12, meaning the UCD Medicine student’s time was fourth best overall of the eight finalists.
“I’m in the final and that was the plan,” English said afterwards of qualifying for a first ever senior final. “It was a bit nerve-racking there waiting - it was like waiting for your Leaving Cert results. When I saw the first lap of the second semi-final going through in 52 seconds I knew I was through.
“My semi-final was very fast. Bosse took it on and kept up the tempo. It was a blessing in disguise. They’re good guys that came ahead of me and I have a day’s rest now ahead of the final. I’ll give it another bang. There was a lot of wind out there and I didn’t get much shelter as I went wide. I’ve a full day to rest now on Thursday.”
The Letterkenny native won his heat in a time of 1:47.38 on Monday, which made him the fastest of the qualifiers to the semi-finals.
“I’m delighted,” he said after that heat. “It panned out as I thought it might with the first lap in 53 seconds.
“My plan was to sit there in either first or second place, depending on which was easier, by the time I got to the 200-metre mark and it worked out perfectly as a gap opened for me with about 220 metres to go.
“I passed Andrew Osagie (from Great Britain), who was an Olympic finalist so I can’t ask for more than that.
“I wanted to give a bit of acceleration to show what I can do for the semi-finals. I eased up in the last 20 metres, not intentionally, to conserve a bit.
“The important thing about these heats is to stand up and not fall over and I’m happy I executed everything right.”
Brendan Boyce from Milford, who will take part in the 50k walk, is also in Zurich and will also be competing on Friday, in his case at 8am. English’s 800m is on Friday at 6:55pm.