David Gillick’s double Euro indoor gold

Euro Indoor gold for Gillick in 2005 (Photo: european-athletics.org)

Euro Indoor gold for Gillick in 2005 – the first of an impressive double  (Photo: european-athletics.org)

The biennial European Athletics Indoor Championships take place this weekend, 1-3 March, in Gothenburg. Ireland is sending a team of 11 to Sweden, and hopes of success are high.

Ciaran O’Lionaird, the cult hero of Irish athletics today, seems to have recovered from his injury-blighted 2012, finishing third in the Wanamaker Mile a few weeks ago. Derval O’Rourke, 60 metres hurdles bronze medallist at these championships in 2009, is by now well noted for saving her best performances for championships. Double European cross-country champion Fionnuala Britton will face a much different challenge on a tight indoor track but is undoubtedly in top form.

Perhaps our greatest medal hope is Brian Gregan, the fastest man in Europe over 400 metres this year. Gregan will be looking to make up for his European outdoor frustration last year, when a freak injury during the 400 metres final forced him to slow up on the home straight when a medal seemed his for the taking.

Since the turn of the millennium Ireland has enjoyed relative success at the Euro Indoors, compared to its outdoor counterpart or other international championships. Mark Carroll  won 3,000 metres gold in 2000, with Alistair Cragg taking the same title in 2005. Also in 2000, James Nolan won silver in a thrilling 1,500 metres final.

Karen Shinkins came home with bronze in the 400 metres in 2002. Now, what’s more impressive than an athlete who has won an international championship medal? Why, an athlete who has won an international championship medal and also survived a plane crash, of course!

Meanwhile, Derval O’Rourke’s 2009 bronze came between two of those dreaded fourth-place finishes, underlining both her consistent achievement at these games and Ireland’s long-standing curse of suffering as many near misses as medal wins. And at the same 2009 championships Mary Cullen also won bronze, in the 3,000 metres.

But Ireland’s top athlete in Euro Indoor terms is David Gillick, who won the 400 metres title in 2005 and retained it in 2007.

The indoor boards have been good to Gillick. Along with those two Euro golds he has a World Indoor bronze medal from 2004 as a member of the 4 x 400 relay team with Robert Daly, Gary Ryan and David McCarthy. In 2010 he finished fifth in the World Indoor final but was later disqualified after colliding with an opponent.

Gillick has also known his share of frustrations, mainly due to injuries. If you follow the athletics community online you may have seen a remarkable blog post of his – while feeling low during a period of injury, he hears of a novice marathon runner who cites a motivational speech by Gillick himself years previously. Intrigued and inspired, Gillick decides to meet the runner and subsequently reflects on being reminded of his own good advice.

The 400 metres is probably the event which is most affected by the move from outdoors to indoors. Out in the open air it’s a single-lap sprint in lanes. But under the roof it’s a two-lap race, with only the first lap in lanes before a break just before the bell – closer in spirit to an outdoor 800 metre race, then, where pure speed must also be married to bumping and positioning.

Let’s hope Gregan can emulate Gillick in the 400 metres in Gothenburg this weekend, and wish all the Irish team well. Here’s Gillick’s second European win in Birmingham in 2007, nicking gold right on the line in a nail-biting finish:

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8 Responses to David Gillick’s double Euro indoor gold

  1. Usually been a good champs for the Irish. Gregan seems the pic of the bunch but O’Lionaird is a dark horse for the 1500m, especially as the Brits have bizarrely failed to pick O’Hare or anyone else for the event. Personally I think Britton’s presence is questionable a month out from the World Cross as that surely is her priority, It suggests to me she feels her x-country peak was in December January and its time to focus on a good 5,000m in the spring/early summer. Maybe I’m wrong but It takes someone of Sonia O’Sullivan/ Bekele versatility to go from cross to indoors and back again.with aplomb.

    • Run and Jump says:

      O’Lionaird is going in the 3,000 metres, not the 1,500 – apparently on the advice of his coach to protect his Achilles tendon. Strange, because he ran so well in the Wanamaker Mile a few weeks ago, and the 3,000 field is much tougher than the 1,500, especially with Ingebritsen going in the longer event too.

      Perhaps Britton is looking to test her speed and take anything else as a bonus. I had the impression that while the World Cross is definitely a target of hers, her main 2013 goal is the World Championships on the track this summer.

      • I missed that one. Ingebritsen will be tough to beat over 3000m for sure. O’Lionaird did mention having been more into 5000m training in his post Milrose interview so maybe he’s hoping that strength work backed up by a 3.52 mile will be a good combo for the 3000m. Not sure how its supposed to protect his Achilles though?!
        Britton has run at the Irish indoors then in Germany and now this weekend all in the space of 4 weeks. It can’t work out if its indecisive or part of a master plan. She’s run hard indoors but presumably not backed off her volume much. So even though she has run a 3000mPB, the time that won’t scare anyone at these champs or at the world cross. I think she’s a brilliant but frustrating athlete. If the plan was race indoors to get a bit of speed work to aim for good 5000m times and 10,000m times in the summer then I don’t see how a likely slow kickers race which she’s unlikely to have tapered for combined with the travel and disruption to her routine enhances either that plan or a plan to hit say the top 10 in the world cross.

      • Run and Jump says:

        I remember at the World Indoors in Istanbul last year, when O’Lionaird was injured, that he said he found it hard on his Achilles to be up on his toes for the 1,500. Not sure I see how the 3,000 makes much difference, though.

  2. Well both he and britton both came through! Can’t work out how
    she has yet to go sub 15 for 5km, she should manage that now but i think she has backed off the cross prep just a tad to prepare.

    • Run and Jump says:

      Two exciting finals and well-deserved medals! I’m sure Britton had factored a competitive Euro Indoors into her World XC prep. But what’s more valuable, a World Cross top ten or a Euro Indoors medal?

      I’m delighted for O’Lionaird but I thought he could have taken silver and got closer to gold – he seemed a wee bit adrift in the middle kilometre and left himself work to do to get back in touch for the bell. Perhaps he paid for that in the home straight. Still, he ran his own race and got a medal – that’ll fire him up for the Worlds!

  3. IT problems last night so not sure if my comment went through. On the european medal v world top 10, world cross isn’t regarded quite as it was but personally I feel a top 10 would enhance her reputation and add lustre to her euro golds. Mark Carroll once said in response to his euro title that if you had any ambition you had to succeed at that level or else you were just kidding yourself. Britton has the euro medals, she’s finally seems ready to have a crack at the world’s best. However if i here one person try and suggest ‘first european ‘ is a plaudit in itself at the world ‘s i think I will scream!
    I really like Ciaran ‘s attitude, its got just enough of brashness. No inferiority complex.

    • Run and Jump says:

      Some people don’t seem to realise that Britton is already ‘first European’ and there’s an actual race for it that she’s won for the past two years! Her post-race interviews on Sunday seem clear that she regards the track as where it’s at now.

      I agree that Len has finally got both the head and the body just right – and the hair too! When he moved up to Ibrahimov at the bell, I swear that was the most thrilling Irish track moment I’d seen in years – anything and everything was possible right there.

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