August 2014

UCD Student Wins European Bronze Medal

Sun, 17 August 14 12:00

Our congratulations to Mark English who won the bronze medal in the 800 metres final at the European Athletics Championships in Zurich.  Competing in his first championship as a senior athlete, the Stage 3 Medicine student showed he has the tactical intelligence to match his undoubted running talent.

Mark finished behind the two times European indoor champion, Adam Kszczot who took the gold with a season best time of 1:44.15.  Fellow Pole, Artur Kuciapski had to run a personal best time and finished impressively to edge the Donegal man out of second place in the closing strides.  Mark’s time of 1:45.03 equalled his season’s best time when he finished in second place behind Olympic and World Champion, David Rushida of Kenya at the New York Diamond League meeting in June.

Currently ranked fourth in the European rankings, Mark knew that he’d need to run a near perfect race to finish among the medals.  As expected, pre-race favourite Pierre-Ambroise Bossé set a blistering pace over the first 400 metres but the Frenchman faded along with Poland’s Marcin Lewandowski who eventually finished fifth.

The Letterkenny athlete wasn’t at all phased by the fast first lap or by taking the bell in seventh place.  As the pack reined in the two front runners in the last two hundred metres, Mark stepped out of the bunch on the final bend and moved gracefully through the field.  By now, Kszczot was well clear and the race for second place was between the young UCD student and Kuciapski who was finished strongly.

Mark reported that

“Coming of that last bend, it’s usually all a haze.  But here it just seemed so clear, I could see it all. I could see Bossé was gone and Lewandowski was faltering. I knew that Kszczot was gone from me, I wasn’t going to catch him, but the rest of them were up for grabs. After that it was just get to the line as quick as you can.”

To put this achievement into context, this was Ireland’s only medal success at the 2014 European Athletics Championship.  Our athletes have won only 12 European Athletics medals over the past  80 years, with Sonia O’Sullivan taking five of these.

Mark followed up this success by helping break the national record with a time of 3:01.67 as the Irish men's 4 x 400 metre relay team finished in seventh place.