Guernsey Press

Heart is broken as well as record

There was heartbreak in Rome yesterday as Alastair Chalmers’ stunning Guernsey record run fell just short of both the Olympic standard and today’s European Championships final.

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Alastair Chalmers, pictured during his heat on Sunday, set a new Island 400m hurdles record in yesterday's European Championships semi-finals in Rome, but it was not enough to see him progress to the final and just 0.06sec. outside the Olympic standard. (Picture by Athletics Images, 33312500)

Chalmers placed third and therefore just outside the two automatic qualifiers in his 400m hurdles semi-final at the ‘Euros’ with an otherwise terrific run, which was confirmed at 48.76sec. after a very tense wait – captured in full close-up by the television cameras. He missed the Paris 2024 standard by just 0.06sec.

The 24-year-old was clearly the fastest non-automatic qualifier to that point at Italy’s Olympic Stadium, meaning with any luck he would scrape into the final and get another shot at the all-important standard.

But the third and final semi brought a barrage of quick times and, after another nervy wait, it was confirmed that both non-automatic qualifier spots had been taken.

The Guernsey star was visibly gutted, being comforted by his father and girlfriend on the sidelines before sharing a ‘thank you’ post to his social media fans, accompanied by a broken heart emoji. He has until the end of this month to produce the standard for Paris.

‘It’s a bizarre situation to have run such an amazing performance, get a PB – which is over two years since he ran a PB – and come away feeling, I’m imagining, pretty devastated,’ Guernsey Athletics development officer Tom Druce said.

‘It’s tough, and it’s a combination of misfortunes.

‘It was such a long wait for the time to come up, so you are like “Is it fast enough? Is it not?”

‘Then you think you’re probably going to get another run tomorrow – and suddenly you’re not.’

The Guernsey star had opened with a 49.71 for third in his heat.

World record-holder Karsten Warholm cruised through to win the first semi in 48.75, with his closest pursuers being in the mid-49s.

A hungry Chalmers was not perturbed by being drawn the outside lane for his semi – he ran his previous PB in the same conditions – and threw down a statement of intent by leading most of the way.

But Estonia’s Rasmus Magi started edging clear on the home straight, before winning in 48.43. Sweden’s Carl Bengtstrom then picked off a tiring Chalmers on the run-in.

Ultimately, his fate was sealed when home prospect Alessandro Sibilio stormed through the final semi in a leading 48.07, with the three athletes behind him also outperforming the front-runners of previous heats.