Season’s best wins Chris O’Hare the 1500m bronze

SCOTLAND’S Chris O’Hare produced a season’s best performance at the European Indoor Athletics Championships in Prague yesterday to land bronze in the 1,500 metres with a gutsy showing.

Chris O'Hare lies exhausted on the track after winning 1500m bronze. Picture: Getty
Chris O'Hare lies exhausted on the track after winning 1500m bronze. Picture: Getty

O’Hare was forced to dig deep in the final 200m as he came under pressure from Germany’s Homiyu Tesfaye and fellow Brit Charlie Grice but he hung on to take a medal.

The West Linton athlete, who attended Peebles High School, clocked 3:38.96 minutes to force his way on to the podium as home favourite Jakob Holusa raised the roof by producing a late run to take gold.

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Frustratingly for O’Hare, he injured his foot in the opening metres of the race and was forced to complete the final with a large cut but, despite that mishap, the Scot vowed to learn from his experience.

“I’ll probably need a few stitches. In the first five metres I got stood on from behind and I thought that’s not handy, but I’ll get some stitches on my foot and I’ll be alright,” he said.

“In the first few laps I thought ‘this is more than a scratch’ but it wasn’t going to stop me.

“I thought I might get swallowed and maybe go from third to last so I managed to keep my head down and my knees up and keep pushing.

“It was a good race and I’m happy with it so now I’ll look to outdoors.

“I’ve no doubt that my style of racing helps me in championships but I still need to get those fast times.

“I think before I would have got swallowed up in that last lap but just that extra bit of speed development has kept me going in that last lap.”

Meanwhile, fellow Scot Guy Learmonth was left bitterly disappointed when he failed to win a medal in the final of the 800m. Learmonth admitted he was tactically naive in the final but will learn from the experience after finishing last and is already targeting this summer’s World Championships in Beijing.

The Brit was caught off guard at the 400m mark and was only able to clock a time of 1:47.84 minutes, with Poland’s Marcin Lewandowski taking gold in 1:46.67. Ireland’s Mark English took the silver and Holland’s Thijmen Kupers the bronze.

Learmonth is convinced he is on the brink of delivering a medal on the major championship stage and revealed his chastening experience in Prague can only help his development.

“I’m a little bit disappointed, to be fair. There are a lot of positives I can take out of this but I was hoping for a medal and I was caught off guard with about 400 to go,” he said.

“The Dutch boy just stole a march on everyone and, unfortunately, I just didn’t have enough today, but I’ve learned a lot.

“I’m not here for the experience. I believe in myself and believe I can compete with these boys and beat them and one day I will, but not today, so I will just look ahead to Beijing.

“My gameplan was to sit in second or third. I thought Marcin [Lewandowski] was going to be at the back but I was going through the motions a wee bit. But it’s another major championship final and I will take a lot from it.

“Beijing is going to be tough and I still have to qualify, but it’s just going through all of this but I just don’t want to come for the experience and for the tracksuit and I have proved that today by getting to the final. As I say, there’s lots of positives that I’ll take from this.”

Learmonth has promised to learn his lessons from Prague, where his tactical management of a final is as crucial as his athleticism on the track.

Despite the disappointment, Learmonth highlights his recent personal best and British title as a reason to be pleased with his winter’s work.

“It’s tough because when it happens like that you have to respond instantly and I responded but, unfortunately, I just didn’t have enough to get them towards the end. But it’s just one of those things,” he added.

“I’ll have a week off now and then I go to South Africa on 22 March to train and that’s going to be something else and a big learning curve.

“I ran a PB in Birmingham, I’m the British Champion and I’m in the European Championships final so I can’t really ask for much more.

“Next year we’ll come back and I’m ready to start winning some medals now and, mentally, I’m ready to do it.”

English landed Ireland’s first medal at the European Indoors. The 21-year-old, a European bronze medallist outdoors last summer, chased down Kupers and dipped to cross the line in one minute 47.20 seconds, edging out the Dutchman by 0.05secs.

Laura Muir insists she has no regrets after finishing fourth in a lung-busting 3000m final in Prague.

Muir had qualified for Saturday’s final second fastest with a strong display during Friday’s heats in which she clocked 8:57.71 minutes.

The Netherlands’ Maureen Koster was the only athlete quicker and it looked like Muir might repeat the feat in the final after starting well and working herself into a strong field position.

But the quality of Russia’s Yelena Korobkina and Belarusian Sviatlana Kudzelich shone through in the end as the duo broke away and battled it out for gold – the Russian ultimately proving too strong.

That left Muir and Koster to battle for third and, once again, the Dutch athlete came out on top as she crossed in 8:51.64 – 0.9 seconds ahead of the Scot.

However, despite the agonising loss, Muir was philosophical in defeat and says there was nothing left in her tank as she crossed the line.

“I ran exactly the way I wanted to and I tried to put a big effort in but it wasn’t as good as the heats,” said the 21-year-old from Milnathort.

“I’m happy with how I ran the race though, but a bit disappointed I couldn’t medal after that.

“I have no regrets and there’s nothing I feel like I could have done anymore so if fourth place is as good as I can get then so be it. I don’t feel like I could have done any better.

“You have to look at the times when you’re one of the slowest and get through and then when you’re one of the fastest and get through.

“It all comes down to on the day really and it would have been great to come third, but fourth is the next best thing so I’m happy.”

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