Irish athletes in action at the European Championships on Saturday, the 30th of July....
Ciara Mageean goes out in the first semi-final of the womens 1500m. After running strong for the first two laps and staying in contention with the leading group, the fast pace began to tell with Ciara fading in the last lap. Her time of 4:19.23 is well down on the her personal best time of 4:07.45 which she set last August. Ciara is still just 20 years old so this major championship will be part of the learning curve for her.
Orla Drumm goes out in the second semi-final with a time of 4:19.61. For whatever reason, things didn't go well for her today as she has run much faster recently. Back in April, she ran 4:18.48 at the Leevale Meet while she ran 4:13.27 in the US at the end of that month. Her personal best time is 4:09.95 which was set in Dessau in Germany in late May. In a post race interview, she said...“I am disappointed with that, when the girls picked up the pace I just didn’t have the legs to go with them. It really shows me that I need to work on my 400m speed in order to compete. At the start of the season the aim was to make these championships, but being here I wanted to make the final. I will race again in Sweden next week to try for the Olympic A standard”
Paul Robinson finishes in 9th place in the second semi-final of the 1500m. This heat was much slower than the first one with Paul spending a lot of time on the edge of the bunch out in lane 2. His time of 3:47.26 was well down on his personal best time of 3:39.72 which he set in Watford on the 9th of June. In a post race interview, he said..."I am disappointed; I didn’t come over here to make up the numbers. I lost my position with two laps to go and unfortunately that cost me. When the pace started to wind up I wasn’t able to get back to them. I have certainly learned a lot from this experience.”
Stephanie Reilly finished in 12th place in the womens 3000m steeplechase. Her time of 9:53.90 was well down on the 9:44.15 that she set in the semi-final. Stephanies personal best time is 9:42.91 which was set in New York in June 2011. In a post race interview, she said...“I am happy enough with that, I would have liked to have gone quicker but I knew after two laps that it wasn’t going to be a fast race. So I just tucked in and held on for as long as I could. My next race will be the nationals and then I have a few more 1500m races before the Olympics”
In the mens 200m final, Paul Hession (Athenry AC) finished eighth in a time of 21.27. Paul had started in lane 1 but with the tight bends, he found it hard to repeat the 20.75 and 20.84 of the earlier rounds.
10,000m Final .......Mark Kenneally finished in 15th place in 29:10.55. Mark has run 28:33.12 as recently as May of this year. In a post race interview, Mark said “I am not happy with that. I would have liked the pace to have been quicker; it is very hard for me to pick up the pace, given where I am at with my training. I have put in a couple of 120 mile weeks for the last while so I know my preparations are on track for London.”
David Rooney finished in 21st place in 29.57.81, a seasons best for him.
The Irish 4 x 400m relay team of Clare Bergin (Dundrum South Dublin AC), Joanne Cuddihy (Kilkenny City Harriers AC), Marian Heffernan (Togher AC) and Michelle Carey (Dublin Striders AC) finished the race in fifth place 3.32.43. However it was later revealed that the team were disqualified due to a zone infringement on the third changeover.
The Irish women's team remain ranked 12th in the world and are set to be named in the sixteen Olympic qualifiers announced by the IOC and IAAF on Monday. They need to await results from tomorrow’s final and the African Games before the outcome is certain.
So that concludes another day of European athletics. Between disqualifications and below par performances, it was a disappointing day for the Irish athletes. If anything positive can be taken from today then it must surely be the performance of Joanne Cuddihy and Marian Heffernan in the 4 x 400m relay.
Joanne Cuddihy ran the second leg and was nothing short of amazing. After receiving the baton in 8th position, she literally tore through the field as if they were a bunch of 14 year olds and handed over the baton to Marian Heffernan who then started in 3rd place. You would really have to wonder how far Joanne would have progressed if she hadn't got disqualified in the first round of the 400m.
Marian Heffernan of Togher AC also produced another fine run. She was handed the baton in 3rd place and she ran strongly to hand it over in 3rd place. A good solid performance. With a run like that, she deserves to make an Olympic team.