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World of Sport

05th Mar 2023

‘Gutted’ Darragh McElhinney runs a blinder but narrowly misses out on medals in Euro indoors

Niall McIntyre

Darragh McElhinney put in an incredible performance to finish in fourth place in the European indoor championships in Istanbul.

The Cork man was gutted after his 3000m race – it was hardly any surprise that he broke down in his post-race interview with David Gillick – because, as everyone knows, fourth is one of the most painful places to finish in athletics.

There are no medals for fourth, there is little glory and all you are left with is ifs and buts.

But in time, as both Rob Heffernan and Derval O’Rourke both said in the RTE studio, the 22-year-old will look back on this run with great pride.

After all, this was something of a breakthrough race for the youngster. This was his best finish at a major championships and it was a personal best of 7.44.72, a personal best and a time that is highly commendable especially when you consider the slow start to the race.

The Cork athlete settled himself into 11th place early on but he soon moved up to ninth and with Jakob Ingebrigtsen piling on the pressure up front, and with the pack dropping like flies, McElhinney picked his way through the field.

In the end, it was a near-miss as he finished less than a second behind Serbia Elzan Bibic who was third.

“Darragh has a champion attitude,” said a proud fellow Cork-man Rob Heffernan on RTE afterwards.

“Isn’t it brilliant to see him up on the business end, and closing in on the medals. He’s up there with the best athletes in the world. He’ll get so much confidence off this.”

“He has that bit of bite about him. And I love it,” added Derval O’Rourke.

McElhinney himself was ‘gutted’ afterwards, and wondered whether he should have made his move earlier.

“I’m just so speechless. I can’t believe I came so close. I timed it nearly perfectly. If I’d gone a tiny bit earlier…but then maybe I wouldn’t have been as fresh in the last lap. It’s just a bit gutting,” he added.

“Fourth hurts. I’ve been fourth at this championship. Nothing happens when you come fourth. You’ve three people on a podium, and you’re just talking about how close you are. That hurts, but you use that hurt, and I’m sure he’ll learn from that.”