Ireland’s mixed 4x400m relay “dream team” have qualified for the Olympic Games by lopping a whopping eight seconds off the Irish record to qualify for tomorrow’s final at the World Relays in Poland — while the women’s 4x100m team have qualified for next year’s World Championships, narrowly missing out on Tokyo.
The impressive mixed quartet of Chris O’Donnell, Phil Healy, Sharlene Mawdsley and Thomas Barr rocketed to an unprecedented 3:16.84, easily eclipsing the previous record of 3:24.14 set at the 2019 European Games in Minsk.
In a heat where Ireland looked to have a good chance of progressing in advance anyway, national 400m champion O’Donnell of North Sligo AC put in a solid opening leg of 47.49, to hand over to Phil Healy for the second lap just a second behind leaders Brazil, with Botswana and Belarus also ahead of the Irish team.
Within forty metres, national 100 and 200m record holder Healy had hit the front, with the Euro Indoors fourth-placer holding that position for almost the entire lap before hanging over to Mawdsley in second spot, Healy having been overhauled at the death by Tiffani Silva.
Mawdsley’s prowess at junior level has continued onto the biggest stage, the 22-year-old Newport AC athlete fought her way up from third (behind Brazil and the Dominican Republic) to be in front when handing over to European Championships bronze-medallist Thomas Barr.
Though ace hurdler Barr was overhauled in the final twenty metres by athletes from those two countries that had overtaken Mawdsley, the Ferrybank AC athlete got past the line just 0.31 seconds behind winners Brazil to clinch a fastest-losers’ place — faster than the time that won the opening heat — with that new mark taking a remarkable chunk off the outgoing Irish record from two years ago.
Brazil’s winning time was 3:16.53, with the Dominican Republic second in 3:16.67.
— Athletics Ireland (@irishathletics) May 1, 2021
The result qualifies Ireland for the first running of this event at an Olympic Games, this summer in Tokyo.
The women’s 4x100m team of Molly Scott, Sarah Lavin, Kate Doherty and Sarah Quinn finished fourth in their semi-final heat in 44.53 seconds, behind two of the best European squads in recent seasons.
With Dafne Schippers and Nadine Visser on board, the Netherlands raced clear to victory in 43.28 seconds, with Poland second in 43.64, and Ecuador running a national record in third of 43.86.
Ireland had stayed up with the leaders for most of the contest, but a loose final changeover saw some momentum lost.
Despite missing out on tomorrow’s final and this summer’s Olympics by two places and 0.28 seconds, their final ranking still qualifies them for next year’s World Championships in Eugene.
Both teams are also through to next year's World Championships.