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Sharlene Mawdsley shows there are no limits as she leads Ireland into women’s 4x400m final

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There clearly are no limits to Sharlene Mawdsley’s super 400m running power. Just over 12 hours after running the individual European 400m final, Mawdsley was back inside the Stadio Olimpico to produce another stunning anchor leg of the 4x400m relay, ensuring Ireland qualified for Wednesday’s final the fastest of the lot – their 3:24.81 just shy of the 3:24.38 Irish record from the World Relays in The Bahamas last month, with Rhasidat Adeleke on board.

Despite her own exertions in Monday night’s epic 400m final, which produced the two fastest European times this century, Mawdsley put herself on the line again, joining Sopher Becker, Phil Healy and Lauren Cadden as a late replacement in the second of the two semi-finals here in Tuesday morning.

Mawdsley held off on any decision as long as possible to ensure she felt she was suitably recovered after Monday’s final, where she finished eighth in 51.59, going out perhaps a little too hard; though not initially expected to run either, she took her place after Kelly McGrory withdrew during the warm-up.

Mawdsley will be happy with that decision now, as she took Ireland from fourth to first on her anchor leg, clocking another searing split of 49.76 seconds, the fastest among the two semi-finals.

With that Ireland took the clear win, ahead France (3:25.15) and Belgium (3:25.16), with only those top three sure of progressing, along with the two fastest non-automatic times.

That final is set for 8.05pm Irish time on Wednesday night, and it is now expected that Adeleke will take a place among the final quartet; although that final decision still pending, Adeleke for now is certainly up for it.

“Honestly today I just felt I had to step up, last minute,” said Mawdsley. “But that what subs are for, and again I just ran the inside line and didn’t panic, stayed relaxed and composed, and everything worked out in our favour. I felt very comfortable, and here we are back in another European final.”

Becker opened with a 51.64, holding second behind Belgium, with Healy then coming through with a 51.29; Cadden held her position in fourth, running 52.12, as Belgium appeared to open a clear gap; only then came Mawdsley with her 49.76, coming through on the inside down the homestretch.

Becker was equally pleased with her opening effort: “Yeah I’m absolutely thrilled, when we saw 3:24 on the board, we were all like, ‘what the heck?’ It’s so promising going into the final now.”

For Healy, who clocked her fastest ever relay split of 51.29, another final now beckons too: “Yeah, very happy with that, obviously was a little disappointed after my 200m yesterday, so I suppose I used a bit of more anger from that, and all the girls performed phenomenal. Massive credit to Sharlene as well, after we lost Kelly this morning. Hopefully we have Rhasidat to come now as well, very exciting now.”

Cadden added: “The girls had me very calm, happy with that run, can’t complain, I feel like I’m progressing all the time.”

Poland won the first semi-final in 3:25.59, the Dutch women also qualifying in third, but who will likely have the addition of their superstar Femke Bol come the final, after she runs the final of the 400m hurdles this evening.

On Monday night, Adeleke ran the fastest 400m of her life, the still only 21-year-old clocking 49.07 to win silver after a thrilling 400m final.

Despite smashing her previous mark of 49.20, she had to bow to the slight superiority of Natalia Kaczmarek from Poland, who won gold when improving her lifetime best by over half a second to break through the 49-second barrier for the first time, winning in a sensational 48.98 seconds.

But it means the two fastest European women’s 400m times this century are now Kaczmarek’s 48.98 and Adeleke’s⁩ 49.07 run here in Rome, further evidence if needed of the quality of race which unfolded there.

Her 49.07 would also have won her Olympic gold in five of the last six Olympics, with only the Tokyo winning time of 48.48 faster, where her 49.07 would have won silver.

Earlier, the Irish men’s 4x400m briefly held a qualifying spot after their semi-final, the quartet of Jack Raftery, Chris O’Donnell, 17-year-old Sean Doggett and Callum Baird coming fifth in 3:04.01, a season best, behind Britain’s winning time of 3:01:69.

The second semi-final was marginally faster, and the two non-automatic qualifying positions went to Germany (3:01.44) and Spain (3:01.45), with Ireland ending up 10th best overall.

Raftery clocked 46.68, O’Donnell 45.26, Doggett 47.33, before Baird closed with his 45.14.

Next up were the men’s 4x100m, running in the first of two semi-finals, with Bori Akinola, Mark Smyth, Colin Doyle and Israel Olatunde combining to finish seventh in a season best of 39.34, Germany taking the win there in 38.53.

That leaves Ireland with only an interest left in the women’s 4x400m final, but where another thrilling race now lies in store.

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