Mark English qualifies for the semi-finals in Beijing, writes James Sullivan
There was relief for Mark English this morning, as the Irishman avoided an early exit at the World Championships in Beijing. The Donegal native finished in fifth place in heat 3 of the men’s 800m, outside the automatic top three qualifying positions. However after an anxious wait, his clocking of 1:46.69 proved sufficient to see him advance to tomorrow evening’s semi final as the fourth of six fastest losers over the six heats.
“You are very nervous waiting to find out. You’re running through what headlines they are going to be writing about you” remarked the 22 year old afterwards. “It’s nerve-racking. It’s your whole year on the line in those few moments. I’m just very relieved to be in the semi-finals.”
On his only previous appearance in a major global outdoor championship, in Moscow two years ago, English ran conservatively over the opening lap, and was subsequently eliminated in the heats. However the UCD athlete ensured that he did not repeat his mistakes of the past, running aggressively in the opening stages, holding third position throughout, before being out kicked in the closing stages. “If you sit any further back than fourth or fifth in the back straight, it’s so hard to try make a move, so I just said I’ll let them do the work behind me and try let them come at me and I’d try hold them off.”
“I said I’d be more involved after 400m. I figured I would be happy with myself if I crashed out having gone out harder rather than slower. I was mentally focused on this race. I wasn’t friends with anybody in that call room and was ready for it today.”
Having reached his first major global semi-final, the European bronze medallist will be looking to go one step further tomorrow evening. Despite the enormity of the task facing him to reach the world’s top eight, he remains in confident mood that he can challenge for a place in Tuesday’s final. “I think I will have to run close to my PB. I think all the semi-finals are going to be fast, and that’s the kind of race I think will suit me. I’ve raced the guys I will be racing tomorrow and I have beat them before so I’m still fairly confident going into tomorrow.”
“I like racing in the evening time better. I’ve always run my best races at that time. My PB was run at about 8 o’clock in the evening. London this year was run at about 6pm. Whatever it is about my biological clock, I seem to tick at that time, so hopefully I can do it again tomorrow.”