Gregan finishes strongly to take automatic semi-final qualification spot, writes James Sullivan.

There was positive news for the Irish team at the World Championships in London this morning, as Brian Gregan finished third in heat four of the 400 metres, taking one of the three automatic qualification positions, to advance to tomorrow evening’s semi-finals. The Clonliffe Harriers athlete finished strong on the home straight to come through the field to clock 45.37 seconds, the second fastest time of his life, just 0.11 down on his personal best.

“I was ranked sixth on PBs, and finished third, so there is not much more you can ask for than that,” remarked a delighted Gregan in the aftermath.” 45.3 at 11 o’clock in the morning. I wouldn’t say I’m a morning person, but I got out and did it.”

“I just thought ‘don’t panic don’t panic’. As soon as I saw that white line at 200 metres to go that’s when my race started. The rest of it was just getting into position.  I knew when I got to 150 to go I could catch them all. I felt really strong in the last 100. The game plan was to wait until 80 metres to go and come through the field and it played out exactly how I wanted it to.”

The 27 year old has seen a return to form in 2017, following a difficult four years since his last appearance in the 400 metres at a global outdoor championships, the World Championships in Moscow, when he also advanced to the semi-finals. However, the Irish champion didn’t let this time away from the global stage affect him, concentrating on his own strengths and not getting caught up in what his competitors were doing in the early stages of the race.

“All these guys are 20 point guys for 200 metres. There’s no point racing somebody else’s race. I was chatting to Martyn Rooney beforehand. He said just do your own thing. I did, and it paid dividends.”

Having been away from this level of competition since 2013, Gregan is determined to enjoy the experience fully, something he believes has helped him stay relaxed in the build up.

“I’ve been rooming with Tommy Barr and we’ve been having the craic. Obviously once we get onto that track we take it very seriously, but we’re having fun, we’re enjoying it, and that’s half the battle.”

The 2011 European Under-23 silver medallist finished as the 18th fastest qualifier for the semi-finals, and is under no illusions about how difficult it will be to progress to Tuesday’s final, but believes he can get quicker and put some pressure on his more fancied opponents.

“Since 2013 the event has just cranked up massively. It’s just at a different level. 45.3 coming third in a heat, normally you’d win a heat with 45.5. But me on my best day and a couple of people having a bad day, it’s possible to advance to the final. If people mess up, I’m there to pounce.”

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