O’Brien Sets Two National Record To Close Out Season At Worlds

Liam O’Brien rounded out his season this weekend at the ISU World Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

On the opening day of competition, O’Brien lined up in the qualification rounds in all three distances. He first tackled the 1500m quarterfinals where he was drawn in Heat 5. In a cagey race, he was in contention right up until the final lap, but had to settle for fourth in a time of 2:27.896. In Heat 2 of the 500m preliminaries, he managed to stay out of trouble coming home in third in 42.522 which was good enough to advance him to the 500m heats. Drawn in Heat 6 in the outside lane, he was never really in contention from the start and finished fifth in a time of 42.978. The final distance of Day One was the 1000m and O’Brien found himself racing in Heat 1 of the preliminaries. In a tight contest, he sneaked into third place in a new national record of 1:26.013 and advanced to the heats on time. He concluded a busy day of racing in Heat 3 starting off strongly before coming into contact with another skater which threw O’Brien off course. He valiantly tried to catch up to the rest of the field, but had to be content with 5th place in a time of 1:29.815.

Day Two saw O’Brien race in the repechage rounds of the 1500m and 500m. In Heat 4 of the 1500m repechage quarterfinals, the opening pace was quite slow and did not heat up until seven laps were left. O’Brien fought hard, but fell behind with two laps to go finishing fifth in 2:38.563. In the classification for the distance, he stood 43rd overall. He was back on the ice shortly afterwards for the 500m repechage quarterfinals. With just the winner of Heat 1 gaining automatic qualification and only two spots available for the fastest second place finishers on time across the eight heats, it was always going to be a tall order to advance. However, O’Brien put his best foot forward and was just inches away from securing second in his heat. He had to make do with third place with the consolation of a new Irish record of 42.145. His overall ranking for the distance was 35th.

O’Brien was dressed more than appropriately in green for the final day of racing on Saint Patrick’s Day. Shortly after the start of the Heat 5 of the 100om repechage quarterfinals, contact from another skater sent O’Brien off course. He trailed home in third place with a time of 2:08.690, but was advanced to the next round. In Heat 1 of the repechage semi-finals, he began positively taking the lead with seven laps to go. However, with three laps remaining he lost contact and came third in a time of 1:30.194. With a 25th placing, he earned his best classification for the championships.

“I’m glad I could show everything I have worked on this season,” O’Brien said. “While I may not have progressed through to the main event, I think it was my best showing and I will carry the experience through to next season and build on the result.”