Irish short track speed skater Liam O’Brien (22) has finished in 29th place overall on his debut at the World Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Dordrecht, The Netherlands (5-7 March).
O’Brien raced six times over the course of the three days of the championships inside the Optisport Sportboulevard Arena where comprehensive testing, hygiene and social distancing protocols were in place in accordance with the Guidelines for ISU Events during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
On Day One, he took part in the qualifying rounds for three distances. He was drawn in Heat 2 of the 1500 metres quarterfinals and came fourth in a time of 2:26.068. The 500 metres heats saw him come fourth in Heat 8 with a time of 43.799 after tripping slightly at the start of the race. His last event of the opening day of competition was the 1000 metres heats where he clocked a new personal best time of 1:28.144 in Heat 5 to finish fifth.
The following day O’Brien was back on the ice for two ranking finals. The first race was the 1500 metres in which he came fourth in a drama-filled Heat 3 with a time of 2:39.298 to finish 25th overall in that distance. He came second in Heat 3 of the 500 metres with a time of 43.245 to place 32nd overall for the distance.
O’Brien wrapped up on the final day with the ranking final for the 1000 metres where he notched up another personal best time of 1:27.564 in Heat 2. He placed 33rd in the distance which gave him an overall championship classification of 29th. This is the highest placement ever by an Irish short track speed skater in the history of the World Short Track Speed Skating Championships.
In addition, O’Brien’s overall ranking well inside the Top 32 means that he has secured two spots for Ireland in the men’s category at the 2022 World Short Track Speed Skating Championships which will be held in Montréal, Canada.
“I’m happy with the end result,” O’Brien said. “It was a different level of competitiveness out there this weekend compared to the European Championships and I felt the nerves on Friday, making mistakes that may have cost qualification into the main event.
“I was able to calm down my nerves on Saturday and compete in the ranking finals so I am happy with the progression. I am looking forward to building on that over the coming months and be back out there racing next season.”