Rio 2016: Thomas Barr fourth in 400m hurdles final after sub-48 second run

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Ireland's Barr narrowly misses out on hurdles bronze

Ireland's Thomas Barr missed out on a Olympics 400m hurdles medal by 0.05 seconds as his new national record of 47.97 left him fourth in Rio.

Barr's late charge saw him closing on Turkey's Cuban-born Yasmani Copello before the line just came too soon.

American Kerron Clement won gold in 47.73 ahead of Kenya's Boniface Tumuti.

Barr's time, which cut 0.42 seconds off his Irish record set in the semi-finals, would have earned the 24-year-old a medal at the last three Olympics.

Waterford man Barr was aiming to become Ireland's first Olympic track and field medallist since Sonia O'Sullivan's 5,000m silver 16 years ago in Sydney.

The University of Limerick graduate was also the first Irishman to compete in an Olympic 400m hurdles final since Bob Tisdall clinched gold in 1932.

Irish sailor Annalise Murphy finished fourth at London 2012 before clinching silver in Rio earlier this week
Ireland's sailing silver medallist Annalise Murphy congratulates Barr on his performance

Barr went into the Games after an injury-affected build-up but clocked 48.93 to progress from his first-round heat before cutting 0.26 seconds off his national record as he won his semi-final to qualify third fastest for the decider.

The Waterford man described his performance as "bitter sweet".

"I'm absolutely delighted to have made it to the final and I'm also delighted to have seen a 47 up on that clock, which I didn't expect," Barr told RTE.

"I expected that it would have to be a 47 to get a medal but I didn't know if I had it in me."

The race started amid tension after the disqualification of 2012 bronze medallist Puerto Rico's Javier Culson following his false start.

Barr bided his time as he was in sixth position as the runners earned the final straight but finished strongly to end inches behind bronze medallist Copello.

Kerron Clement (left), Thomas Barr (centre) and Yasmani Copello
Thomas Barr (centre) finished 0.05 seconds behind bronze medallist Yasmani Copello (right) as Kerron Clement (left) took gold

Barr's sub 48-second run a huge breakthrough

However, the Waterford athlete's sub 48-second time represented a huge breakthrough as he firmly established his world-class credentials.

"It's insane," laughed the Irishman, as the realisation of his time began to sink in.

"I never thought I'd see the day. Especially not this year. Getting to 47 on the clock."

Nevertheless, Barr still insisted that he hadn't produced the perfect race.

"I came off hurdle six or seven a little bit awkwardly and stuttered a bit into nine and 10 as well and that may have cost me.

"Over hurdle 10, I was gaining on them and I thought I would have maybe sneaked it (a medal) on the line but to be anywhere close to a medal....I'm absolutely thrilled."

Badminton player Scott Evans and boxing star Katie Taylor in the Olympic Stadium on Thursday
Katie Taylor (right) and Scott Evans were among the Ireland team members who cheered on Barr in the 400m hurdles final

Barr lauds Irish supporters

Barr also paid tribute to the large contingent of Irish supporters in the stadium with Katie Taylor, Padraig Harrington and Scott Evans his team-mates there to cheer him on.

"The first thing I noticed when I came out on to the track was the amount of Irish flags - not just buried in the crowd but right there on the side of the track.

"So even though I didn't win a medal, I felt like I had to do a mini lap of honour and go over there and thank them."

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