Sarah Lavin shook off the nerves – and a dangerous mid-race mistake – to power through to the 100m hurdles semi-finals at the World Athletics Championships in Oregon, the Limerick athlete clocking 12.99 to finish third in her heat on Saturday morning.
hat gave her an automatic qualifying spot behind Nigeria’s Tobi Amusan (12.40) and Jamaica’s Danielle Williams (12.87) and, crucially, gives Lavin a chance to correct her errors and attack her personal best of 12.84 in Sunday evening’s semi-final. On a cool, breezy morning at Hayward Field, there were several high-profile casualties in the heats with reigning world champion Nia Ali among those crashing out.
Lavin came close to a similar fate after clattering a barrier mid-race but she kept her balance to carry on and advance. “That’s a concentration thing – I have to run my own race,” she said. “The big thing today was getting through – a big Q is a luxury. Job done.”
The Emerald AC athlete had been in Eugene for nine days ahead of the race and admitted the wait had led to increased tension as she took to the line. “I was quite nervous, it’s been a hell of a wait, but we’ve got here, it’s job done this morning – reset and go again,” she said. “It was really expected of me to get through this first round, it was a weight on my shoulder I navigated. It wasn’t a clean race. I’ll have to be a lot sharper tomorrow.”
Lavin will line in up in one of three semi-finals on Sunday evening, which get under way at 5.10pm in Eugene (1.10am Irish time). “I do think a 12.70 will be required to make a final,” she said. “Derval’s national record is 12.65 and just to make a final it’s looking like you’ll have to get near that. All I can do myself is clean up today.”
It’s been a breakthrough year so far. Lavin smashed her personal best over 60m hurdles to make the world indoor final in Belgrade in March and lowered her PB to 12.84 in Cork ahead of the World Championships. The lesson she learned in Belgrade that she plans to put to use here? “Anything is possible,” she said.