John Fitzsimons knows what it’s like to make a European final.
The 24-year-old also knows what it takes to win a European medal.
Back in 2017 at the European U20 Championships in Grosseto the Kildare man ran an excellent race to win a stunning bronze medal.
The road since has been bumpy, with Fitzsimons picking up numerous injuries along the way but now he is fit, healthy and ready to show that he is one of the most talented 800m runners in Europe when he competes in Munich this week.
It has been a breakthrough year for Fitzsimons who moved to sixth on the Irish All-Time list for the event with a 1:45.66 clocking in Toulouse back in May.
“This whole year has been a step on from last year which is probably the most important thing,” Fitzsimons says.
“I'm slowly bridging that gap to being a world class athlete and the season as a whole was pretty good.”
Fitzsimons last picked up an injury last September and has been remarkably consistent since his recovery. He feels he has developed a lot as an athlete in 2022.
“We had a look at my attributes as an athlete, what we needed to change and what other people could do for my event.
“This year there's been a really strong focus on trying to develop my max speed.
“We've done some testing in the Institute with Martina McCarthy and we can see that it is coming along test-by-test block by block.
Fitzsimons believes and has shown on plenty of occasions that he is an excellent tactical racer. He’s hoping that he will be able to use that to his advantage as he attempts to make a European final this week, a race in which he feels he belongs in.
“To be honest there's eight lanes in the final and I would expect all going well for two of them to be filled with Irish athletes.
“Mark and I are both good enough and in the shape to be there,” he adds.
“Medals are very hard to come by and I wouldn't be putting my name down for one, just because of the nature of the event, but I expect myself to be in the final.
“Then there's only eight men there, three are coming away with silverware so I wouldn't write myself off.”
John Fitzsimons sets out long-term ambitions
The confidence that Fitzsimons speaks with is admirable. He clearly believes in his abilities and reckons that one day he can push himself to a place no other Irish 800m runner has gone before.
“I wouldn't be fond of putting limits on myself, but I do definitely believe in my career that a sub 1.44 is achievable.
“If you just got a full year at it and everything goes correctly. I think I'm in 1.44 shape right now and I don't think I've peaked for my lifetime.
“I think there'll be more there and if you just get into the right race on the right day and everything's feeling good there's no reason why an Irishman can’t go sub-1.44.”
While that is a longer-term goal, John Fitzsimons’ focus will be purely on qualifying for the semi-finals of the 800m at the European Championships. He races in the heats on Thursday morning at 9:24am.