Patient Carroll Strikes from Behind to Take Gold

(by Brendan Mooney, The Examiner).  Mark Carroll predicted that yesterday’s 3000m final would be the race of the European indoor championships, and the 28-year-old Corkman made it just that, not only for the big Irish following who made the trip to Ghent but for the 3,500 spectators who thronged the new Flanders Arena as he swept past the field to claim the gold medal in 7:49.24 from pre-race favourite, Rui Silva, of Portugal, 7:49.70.  After watching all the other contenders enjoy their own particular moment of glory at the front, Carroll pounced just once, when it really mattered, leaving Silva, the pre-race favourite and fastest man in the field this year, gasping.  Gennaro Di Napoli of Italy grabbed the lead at the gun and led them through 200m in 32 seconds, chased by Yusef el Nasri of Spain, local hero Mohammed Mourhit with the home crowd behind him, and the second Spaniard, Andres Diaz.  After they passed 400m in 68.18 seconds Mourhit made his anticipated move to the front, overtaking the Italian, with Mayock, Diaz, Mark Carroll and Rui Silva covering the move.  When he led through the first 800m in 2:07.05 it became clear he was not going to do anything sensational.  After reaching 1,000m in 2:40.86 Di Napoli hit the front again, with Mayock on his shoulder and Mourhit now third.  Mark Carroll lost his position and drifted back into eight position.   “I was out of trouble there and I felt confident at that pace that I could cover any move that was made,” he said.  At that point Silva was at the very back of the 11-strong field – Nadir Bosch of France did not start.  They reached 2,000m in 5:24.4 and now Carroll moved to the outside and began picking off the runners in front of him clinically.  “I did not make any contribution to the race up to that point,” he said. “They were all pushing and shoving and boxing each other around.”  Now Silva raced up to track Di Napoli with Mayock, the defending champion, Diaz and Mourhit tucked in behind and Carroll now much closer.  With 600m remaining Mourhit struck again and pulled away with Silva, Mayock, Diaz and Carroll at the back of his group.  On the penultimate lap Carroll moved up to challenge Silva, Di Napoli and Mayock. He waited to take Silva going into the final bend and when he made his move it was decisive.  He opened up a three stride lead and then stretched it around the bend, sprinting into the home straight.  He took a look over his shoulder to see Silva struggling to regain contact but losing ground instead.  When he looked over his other his shoulder, there was nobody there. All that remained was to then raise his hands in celebration.  Defending champion, John Mayock of Great Britain, clung on to third place in 7:49.97 with Mourhit next in 7:49.99 and Diaz, the European indoor 1,500m record holder, next in 7:53.97.  Carroll sprinted around the bend to his coach and mentor at the North Mon, Brother John Dooley, who handed him the Tricolour. He kissed it, draped it around his shoulders and completed the lap of honour.  An injured Brendan Reilly failed to clear a height in the high jump final having elected to come in at 2:27, the mark he failed at in Nenagh at the national indoor championships earlier this month.