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McCormack right on the money with comments says Barr, as Waterford man eliminated in semi finals, writes James Sullivan.

Ireland’s Thomas Barr was quick to jump to the defence of teammate Fionnuala McCormack, following the Wicklow women’s controversial comments regarding nationality switching, made after she finishing fourth in her 10000m final at the European Championships in Amsterdam yesterday.

“Had it been some other athlete who is used to mouthing off on social media, it would have fallen on deaf ears,” remarked Barr, following his exit at the semi-final stage of the 400m hurdles this evening. “But because it was Fionnuala, who is so modest, quietly spoken, very focused and determined, the message kind of hit hard.”

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Fionnuala McCormack

“At first I thought that it was a bad move, but she didn’t go to town, she made her points very clearly and very rationally. It made sense, and wasn’t like she was just going on a rant. I think people understand where she was coming from.”

The Ferrybank athlete also strongly agreed with McCormack’s sentiments regarding the “I run clean” race bibs athletes have had to wear during these championships, and believes that such a move by EAA will make no difference regarding the doping culture in the sport.

“I thought too that this “I run clean” thing is a bit of a gimmick, because there are obviously people out there that are wearing it and are not running clean. People who have served doping bans and maybe should serve doping bans are out on the track running and it is a bit of a joke.”

“I know it’s for the public to kind of put the message out there that they are moving in the right way regarding anti-doping. I can see why they did it, but I don’t know if it has the desired effect. Amongst the athletes anyway, we can all see through it.”

The World University Games champion had a disappointing race in this evening’s semi finals of the 400m hurdles in Amsterdam, by his own high standards, finishing fifth in the third of three semi-finals in a season’s best of 50.09, failing to advance to tomorrow’s final.

“I didn’t feel I got my stride right and I couldn’t get into a rhythm,” remarked Barr in the aftermath. “I didn’t have the same kind of energy on the home straight like I normally would. It wasn’t there and I didn’t feel like I got going. The final was just too far of a reach at the moment.”

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Thomas Barr

However, the Waterford man believes he will take a lot from the experience in Amsterdam, having suffered from a hip injury which has severely impacted his preparations for this summer season.

“I’m 100% happy I came here. If it hasn’t given me the confidence in terms of times and where I’m at as regards races, it has given me the confidence in my own body that I can get through races and that I can get back now into full training.”

“I’ll take a lot of positives from this. This was the perfect stepping stone towards the Olympics. If anything it takes the target off my back, gives me time to just settle into training and go out to Rio, toe the line, and see what happens.”

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