In the end, T. Barr missed out on making the Olympic final by the slimmest of margins. On Sunday night, after an already disappointing weekend for the Irish in Tokyo, the 400m hurdler was dealt the cruellest of blows: the pain of regret, guilt, and the knowledge that better times were within reach.
Just before midnight in Tokyo, officials ruled that there was insufficient video evidence of two alleged infractions by athletes in another heat – one a lane violation, and the other an issue with hooking hurdles –
effectively ending T. Barr chances of advancing to the final via an appeal by the Irish team management (swinging a trail leg around the outside of the barrier, beneath its height).
T. Barr Olympic Experience
T. Barr, who was having the race of his life up until the seventh barrier, had his Olympic experience cut short in this way. Barr, though, changed his stride pattern during takeoff and went in a little too close, clattering it with his trail leg, throwing him off balance and costing him valuable seconds.
Nonetheless, T. Barr dug in and finished strongly, but his fourth-place finish in 48.26 wasn’t good enough, and he ended up in ninth place, just one spot out of the final.
The idea that, with better luck, he might have won the last heat added insult to injury for him.
With Rory McIlroy’s putt lipping out in his fight for a golf medal, Aidan Walsh’s foot injury costing him a shot at boxing silver or gold, and Rhys McClenaghan’s finger catching the handle in the pommel horse final, Ireland’s chance at its first-ever Olympic gymnastics medal disappearing in an instant, this was a weekend where luck very much deserted the Irish.
To some, the Olympics are a blessing; to others, a terrible sham. Tonight, they laid all of their weight on T. Barr.
The sudden collapse was frustrating, but “the barriers are part of the game I’m in” and “I was one of the unlucky ones,” T. Barr remarked. That would have been the second-fastest time I’ve ever run, and it would have been in the low forties if not for this. This was very irritating. It sets a high bar for the next performance.
When I came in, I was a serious candidate, and I’ve been a serious contender all year, but today, when I felt great, I just couldn’t pull it off.
Given the conditions, his pace of 48.26 was remarkable; it was the second-fastest of his career, behind only the 49.97 national record he ran to place fourth in the Olympic final.