Buck battles hard but comes up just short

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YORK’S Richard Buck faces an anxious weekend to see whether British selectors will hand him a London 2012 relay spot after his quest to claim the Olympic ‘A’ standard ended in disappointment in Helsinki last night.

Buck produced a battling performance in the 400m final at the European Championships but after a slow start he was forced to settle for fifth spot – agonisingly missing out on the bronze medal by a tenth of a second.

The Briton, who finished a disappointing fifth at last weekend’s British trials, needed to run 45.30 seconds to claim the third and final individual spot in the 400m at the Olympic Games.

But after being drawn in lane eight in the final, Buck was off the pace in the first 200m and despite a battling final 100m he clocked 45.92 seconds and was forced to settle for fifth.

The Czech Republic’s Pavel Maslak took gold in 45.24secs, Hungary’s Marcell Deak-Nagy silver and France’s Yannick Fonsat bronze.

“A tenth of a second over a quarter of a mile is tough, but this is a cruel sport,” said Buck. “I executed my race plan well, I went out nice and rhythmic and wound it up round the curve and really worked in the home straight but it wasn’t quite there like it has been in other races but I’m still happy.

“I’m really disappointed not to have got a medal, I knew that I could have done and I went out there to really fight for one and to be so close is disappointing.

“It was difficult in lane eight because I could not see what was inside me but I almost ran out of gas in the finishing straight.

“It was so close that I have to use this as a learning experience. But it’s better to be disappointed here than at the Olympics in a month’s time. A tenth of a second is nothing over 400m so it’s bitterly disappointing but this has been a great experience.”

Middlesbrough’s Chris Tomlinson fell agonisingly short of qualifying for the long jump final in Helsinki. He has endured an injury-hit season with winter knee surgery ruling him out of the entire indoor circuit.

After a disappointing showing at the Olympic trials in Birmingham last weekend, where the 30-year-old finished third, it was the same story out in Finland yesterday.

Tomlinson’s best jump from his three attempts was 7.84m, over half a metre down on the personal best of 8.35m he achieved last year.

SPAR, Official Sponsors of UK Athletics. For more information visit www.spar.co.uk