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Worrall`s Olympic Experience Rio 2016 Part 2

Alan Worrall continues to share his Rio 2016 experience: First of all, thanks to everyone who have enjoyed and commented on part 1 of my Olympic experience. I hope by doing these series of my Olympic journey that the reader may in some way experience what it is like to attend an Olympic Games.

Now let’s get back to the action: The commencement of the Athletics programme traditionally starts on the second Friday of the Games. So we headed to the Olympic Stadium which was located approximately 1 hour north of where I was staying in downtown Rio.  The stadium was located in the Copacabana zone along with the famous Maracanã stadium where the opening and closing ceremonies were held.  It was in the Maracanã where the Olympic flame was lit. So on entering the Havalange stadium it felt a bit strange not having the Olympic flame.  The outskirts of the stadium were located in a suburban part of Rio which did lack an atmosphere and only later the following week did the locals show any interest with what was going on by hosting street party’s and music in the background.  The stadium itself was quite compact, a bit unlike the Aviva with high stands on both sides and some additional temporary seating on the bends.  The first morning of the Athletics programme traditionally is the commencement of the sprints, women’s heptathlon etc.  For these games it was decided to run a number of finals in the morning.  So that morning we were treated to the women’s 10,000 metres.  No Irish athletes running in this race.  The British had 3 athletes including the evergreen Jo Pavey who was competing in her 5 straight Olympic games at the grand old age of 42.  Jo is a true inspiration and ran her heart out and was one of the few athletes not to be lapped.  On that first morning we had our first world record and over the next 9 days there was to be a total of 3 records and numerous Olympic records set.

On the negative side the high number of empty seats was a sign that these games were going to a bit different. The new women’s Olympic campion over 10,000 metres in a new world record was Almaz Ayana who knocked 14 seconds of the old record set back in 1993 by Wang Junxia.  The front running of the Ethiopian girl was a sight to behold beating one of the greats

in Tirunesh Diaba in the process. The closing morning session we were treated to an excellent high jump competition involving the women athletes in the Hepthalon.

As in previous Games I try to see some other sports Rio would be no exception. So on the Saturday morning I made the long journey to see the Golf.  If Rory or Jim Spieth weren’t going this Harrier was.  After getting lost on the Metro and 3 train changes plus a bus ride I got to the Golf venue beyond Barra. A ticket was purchased and I was in.   The first golfer I spotted was the American Bubba Watson, closely followed by Matt Kucher and in the distance Padraig Harrington.  I decided to follow Irelands Seamus Power up to the 9th hole.  Seamus played like a true professional and it was pleasing to see a tight group of Irish supporters giving him support. I meet the Irish Golfing Legend Paul Mc Ginley on the way around. After that following the golf till 3 p.m. I headed back, this time no dramas and back for the evening track session.

Sunday 14th August the women’s Marathon.  I was on a winner here as the marathon passed by the Hotel 6 times.  It was also a fabulous morning for the spectators not the runners. We had 3 representatives in Fionnula Mc Cormack, Leevales Lizzie Lee and Briege Connolly. It would be fair to say the girls did us proud in very testing conditions.  Briege in particular was enjoying every moment. Well-done girls.

As highlighted in my first post on the website going to a sporting event where you share a common interest with others is a great ice breaker.  Some of the people I meet were as follows.  Barry Robinson from England. Barry attended his first Olympics in Melbourne in 1956.  He travelled by sea which took 5 weeks, spent 4 weeks in Melbourne and 5 weeks to get home.

He also went to Rome in 1960 and saw the greatly missed Cassius Clay box. The Olympic bug brought Barry to Tokyo in 64, Mexico in 68 and Munich in 72 and 28 years later Sydney in 2000.  Barry is 82 years old and went to every morning and evening session and the stories and time we spent together were an absolute pleasure. Hats off to you Barry.

I also meet a lovely American couple Tom and Carol Ecker from Iowa. Tom is an Olympic Historian and lectures on the Olympics and is a writer with a very much quirky take on life and sport. Like Barry, Tom Olympics stretch back to the sixties. He regaled me with stories seeing Beamon in 68, Black power also in 68 and the Munich and Montreal Games.

It was also great to run into some Irish supporters and friends of athletics in the form of Noreen Keane, Eric Hayward and the great Sean Callan.

On Monday 15th August I went to the Sugar Loaf Mountain and to see Rio in full glory.  The views were out of this world.

Forget to mention Mo Farah won the 10,000 and Usian Bolt won his 3rd 100 metre title. The crowds in the stadium on these night were well supported. Unfortunately, this was not case for other sessions.

Next Time:

Christ the Redeemer somewhere in the fog.

In the company of an Irish Marathon legend.

Thomas Barr in the men’s 400 metres Hurdles.

The men’s marathon.

Homeward bound.

Worrall’s Olympics Experience Rio 2016

Alan Worrall reports: They call it the “Greatest Show on Earth” and every 4 years the youth of the world assemble and provide to the peoples of the world, plenty of drama and excitement plus controversy and the joy and euphoria than no other event on the planet can match. It’s the Olympics and is Rio ready to party? Despite talks of boycotts, unfinished stadiums, transport and security issues and the risk of Zika.  The games of the 31st Olympiad of the modern era are about to commence for the first time in South America in the Brazilian city of Rio De Janerio.

Over the next number of weeks I hope to bring readers through my experience of attending an Olympics Games. This being my fifth Games to attend, the appeal of why I  and others go, will hopefully be explained by the end of my journey at these Games you might see why it really is the Greatest Show on Earth. I will introduce you to some great and genuine people I meet in Rio and the stories they shared with me whether attending Melbourne in 1956 and seeing Delaney win Gold or witnessing   many other defining sporting moments:  Cassis Clay in 1960 at Rome. Beamon and the long jump in 68, or the feeling of being at Munich in 1972 during the hostage crisis and its loss of life for those young people.  These images/stories we can now view on YouTube or sports documentaries.  But nothing beats being there back then, and talking to these fellow Olympic spectators who were there is an education and something I will always value dearly.

On Friday 5th August 2016 the Olympic Flame was lit in the famous Maracanã Stadium in downtown Rio heralding the commencement of these Games.  My own journey was to commence on Tuesday evening 9th August I said goodbye to my family and began my own Olympic voyage. First stop London Heathrow and then a flight to Lisbon in Portugal and then the final part of my journey with a 10 hour flight to Rio.  I landed in Rio on Wednesday 10th at 18:00hrs. I was collected by a rep from Track and Field tours UK and on to my hotel.  I was now part of the tour party made up of a great group of people for the UK and Ireland all experts in the sport of track and field.   On the Thursday 10th I awoke early and thankfully very little sign of jetlag and after a nice breakfast was followed by a walk with my roommate Tony Fahy from Corrofin/Galway.  I first meet Tony at my first games in Atlanta in 1996.  Tony like myself loves the sport of athletics and continues to run several times a week.  The “Olympic bug” bite Tony and he has had the opportunity to attend Olympics as far afield as Moscow, LA, Athens and Beijing and recent editions in London and now Rio.

The location of our hotel was a gift not only were we within a five minute walk from the nearest Metro station.  We were also across from the Marathon route.  In fact we were able to view the both races with the runners passing by the Hotel 6 times.  A walk beyond the marathon  route lead down to Flamengo beach and to the left was the Marine de Gloria where Annalise Murphy would win her well-deserved silver medal.  The view from my hotel room allowed me to view all the sailing races taking place.  So we really hit a winner with the hotel.  The rest of my first day’s afternoon was spent catching a metro to the famous Copacabana beach.

Copacabana beach is everything you would expect it.  All forms of life and cultures could be observed. Have a beer or a cool drink, watch the beach volleyball etc. I walked the full length of the beach where at one stage the temperature hit 30 degrees and this was Rio’s winter. Brazilian summer time is in January to March where temperatures can get up to the late 40’s.   I managed to spot the BBC studios as I walked towards Fort Copacabana where the previous Friday I had seen Claire Balding of the BBC welcome the viewers to Rio.  I really was here.

Next time:

  • Commencement of Athletics programme.
  • Meeting some familiar faces.
  • Sugar Loaf Mountain.
  • Mc Ginley Harrington, Power and Bubba Watson at the Golf.
  • Lost on the Metro?

Sergiu`s Rio dream trampled down

As all will be fully aware our club mate Sergiu Ciobanu was overlooked by Athletics Ireland/Olympic Council of Ireland in the selection of the men`s marathon team for this year`s Olympic Games. With Sergiu quiet rightly appealing the decision it was inappropriate to comment at that time. Sergiu`s Appeal was of course (and some might say no surprise there) disallowed.

The general conscious within Clonliffe Harriers remains one of extreme disappointment and disbelief and of great sympathy for Sergiu. Rather than commenting any further this web site can do no more than publish in full Billy Keane`s article from today`s Irish Independent. It is for others to decide what is fair, equitable and just:

Clock never lies but Ciobanu misses Rio with a faster time

 

Billy Keane

Billy Keane

Sergiu Ciobanu after running a road race in Holycross last Thursday. Photo credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE1
Sergiu Ciobanu after running a road race in Holycross last Thursday. Photo credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE

Sergiu Ciobanu, born in Moldova, and now a Tipp man, is our third fastest Olympic marathon runner.

But Athletics Ireland have selected Kevin Seaward, Mick Clohessy and Paul Pollock as their three for the Rio marathon.

Paul Pollock had a slower time than Sergiu. The Tipp man was heartbroken and he overreacted. “I feel if I was born in Nenagh or Killarney, then I would be in that team,” he said on the cusp of his hurt.

We spoke with Sergiu after he ran a road race in Holycross on Thursday night last.

“I have always been well treated in Ireland in athletics, and outside of athletics. I was very angry. The words came out too fast. I never felt like this in Ireland. Irish people are so respectful.”

And then his voice trails off somewhere into the pain he feels deep inside.

Sergiu’s coach Jerry Kiernan claims Athletics Ireland “kept changing the goalposts”. You have to take heed when Kiernan lets rip. He was ninth in the LA marathon when John Treacy won silver.

I suppose I had better declare a friendship. I lived a couple of hundred yards up the back lane from Kiernan’s house. We won Munster Schools gold for St Michael’s College on the same day, a long time ago.

We got to talking about the case of another near neighbour Eugene Moriarty. Eugene cycled in his 19th Rás last week and he is still competitive. He was fifth in the world amateur championship and so qualified a second Irish cyclist for the Olympic Games, but, incredibly, he was not selected.

Sergiu’s story is an emigrant’s story. He worked for years in a meat plant in Ireland. The young man was on his feet all day but he still ran and ran. Like many of our own, he found it hard to get the money together to go back home to see his family. His dream was to get a stake together in Ireland and when he returned after two years, his then wife had found someone else.

Sergiu was visiting his daughter in Moldova when the bad news came through from Athletics Ireland. Catalina consoled her dad and dried up his tears.

Sergiu is married to Eimear, an Irish girl. They run the thriving Premier Physiotherapy practice in Clonmel and Sergiu, who had hardly a word of English when he came here 11 years ago, has qualified as a physical therapist. The couple are expecting and Eimear, who is one sound woman, backs her husband all the way.

Kevin Ancrom, the CEO of Athletics Ireland, in an interview with the excellent Irish Runner stated: “To prepare for the Olympic Games, we asked athletes to compete early in the qualification period and run an early marathon.”

The AI guidelines state as follows: “Priority 1: April/May and September/November 2015.The two 2015 performance windows designated give athletes the best opportunity to secure an entry standard, and as well, allow enough time for athletes to recover and put in a full preparation period to improve performance prior to the Olympic Games.”

Going by the official guidelines, the optimum window for qualification was last autumn.

Sergiu ran Berlin, along with all of the Irish Olympic hopefuls in September. Sergiu beat the Rio qualification time handily enough. He finished second of the Irish contingent.

Says Sergiu: “It’s not about me. Young athletes who run the best times, how do they know they will be picked to represent our country?” Kiernan contends the only true test was in Berlin. “All the Irish runners ran there. It was a fast, fair track,” he says.

Mick Clohessy, who finished behind Ciobanu in Berlin, beat the Tipp man’s time in February in Seville. Clohessy is a popular stalwart, our national champion. His time was posted on a flat, quiet course on a fine day.

It was not like for like, such as is the case on the track, where the surfaces are synthetic and much of a much.

The Irish system is not the norm. The British and US marathon teams were picked from the first three home in their national championships. Their athletes know what is expected of them.

Paul Pollock, a fine athlete, was 21st in a World Marathon Championship, even if it was back in 2013. Pollock ran an excellent half- marathon just a few months ago. A half is not a full, and is a completely different test. Pollock has not run a marathon since Berlin. He was injured for London in April but there were other events open to him in May before the team was selected.

Ciobanu, though, has been ranked either one or two in Ireland over the past five years.

Kiernan says there is very little between the athletes: “All of these men have put years of their lives trying to get to an Olympic Games. They run 120 miles a week and train twice a day. Any three of the top four could have been picked.”

Ciobanu’s problem is not so much with the athletes but with the process. “The uncertainty of the rules means there is now big pressure on the athletes. They are good people. Great guys. They take time off work. They are not funded.”

Ciobanu was told by a highly-placed person in Irish athletics that his place was assured when it became known Pollock was not going to run in London.

Ciobanu had an entry for Prague and had Pollock beaten his time this spring, well then he would have had another cut. But when the team was announced Prague had come and gone. It was also open to Pollock to run in Seville and Prague but, for some reason, he stuck and did not twist.

It seems Ciobanu was not intentionally misled by the highly-placed person. The fastest three were picked for the women’s marathon. The Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) ratified their decision.

The OCI ratified the men’s team yesterday, two days after giving the imprimatur to the women’s team. This is the classic case of two wrongs making a wrong.

The selection of an athlete who has an inferior time should only be made in exceptional circumstances such as, for example, when an Olympic champion is denied the right to defend his or her title due to injury. This isn’t football. The clock doesn’t lie.

And Sergiu Ciobanu has been denied the right to wear the green shirt of Ireland at the Rio Olympic Games of 2016.

Irish Independent (4th June 2016)

IAAF to pursue Keane motion for cross country in Olympics

A number of years ago Padraig Keane brought a Motion to a Clonliffe AGM: “that Cross Country running be included in the Winter Olympics.” That Motion was passed and then made it`s way before a Dublin Country Board AGM where again the Motion was passed. In turn the Dublin Country Board brought the Motion, successfully, to an Athletics Ireland Congress.

The subject of what happens next has come up several times since, well now the answer is here. Dave Hooper yesterday had a Tweet: “IAAF confirm they are planning cross country as Winter Olympic Sport. Can any name the Irish club who have been fighting that for 20+ yrs?”

Cross Country winter

Further investigation reveals that the subject is being actively pursued by the IAAF. President Diack  of the IAAF at the opening of the weekend`s World Indoor Championships in Poland was quoted as follows: “In Sochi it was a very special IOC session in which we talked about 2020 and the future of the Olympic Movement, we were convinced we could organise cross-country championships during the Winter Games.

“It was not the position of the winter federations.

“But I think we will continue to fight in that direction.

“We have a group looking at it in our headquarters in Monaco, and we want to look at it again in December at [the IOC] Special Session.

“If it is not winter, why not have the cross-country in the summer Olympics?”

So who knows maybe now at this stage some 90 years since Paavo Nurmi (FIN) won the Olympic Cross Country title at the 1924, Summer Games in Paris, the last time cross country was included in the Olympics, cross country may in the not to distant future feature once again in the Olympic Games, Winter or Summer.

 

Gerry McIntyre`s 1960 Olympic memorabilia donated to Clonliffe

Gerry McIntyre was a proud Clonliffe Harrier, born in Birmingham on the 22nd of May 1929, he was a top class distance athlete who was affiliated to both Clonliffe Harriers and Ponders End AC, London. His greatest achievement in athletes was competing for Ireland in the 1960 Olympic Marathon in Rome, the famous Olympic Marathon where Abebe Bikila (ETH) running barefoot on the streets of Rome became the first Africian to win the Olympics. Gerry McIntyre ran the race of his life to set a new Irish record of 2.26.03.00 to finish first of the Irish runners (Willie Dunne and Bertie Messitt) in a most credeble 22nd place. Gerry passed away on the 27th of January 2008.

 On the 13th of September last Gerry`s friend David Day on a visit to the Morton Stadium generously presented Clonliffe Harriers  with Gerry McIntyre`s 1960 Olympic blazer and his Olympic participant`s medal. These items will shortly go on display in the clubhouse.

London 2012 revisited with Alan Worrall

Part 2 of Alan Worrall`s visit to the London Olympics: “One of the many highlights of attending any sporting event is the opportunity not only  to visit the sports venues themselves and sample the atmosphere of top class completion but to see a vibrant city like London.  I firmly believe once you can get a grip of the transport system and have a good pair of shoes on your feet  and good direction, the sky’s the limit on what you may encounter  London is one of those cities which make’s it very easy to travel around whether it be by tube, bus or by foot.  The city is steeped in history and culture along with some fabulous examples of old or new architecture.  After spending 2 exciting days in Olympic Park and enjoying top class competition.  Our Olympic journey took us on the final Thursday of the games to Wembley Stadium and a chance to walk down the famous Wembley way.  Earlier that afternoon we watched our golden girl Katie Taylor win Gold in the women’s boxing tournament in the Excel Arena. Unfortunately we had no tickets so the fight was viewed in a pub in Westminster.  Later on a train journey on the jubilee line brought us to Wembley Park and it the distance on could see the now famous Wembley arch which replaced the twin  tower’s of the old stadium 6 years ago.  The stadium itself is well laid out and still had the appearance of being very new.  Our seats were located just across from the centre of the pitch which afforded a super view of the inside of the stadium.  The women’s football final was contested between the USA and Japan and over 80,000 spectators witnessed a thrilling game of football which the U.S won 2:1. The journey back on the train was the only occasion where we did not get a seat on public transport, which proved that the scare stories about the transport system where that scare stories.

On Friday I  had no event’s to attend to so I made a trip to Lambeth to see the Imperial War Museum which was a most enjoyable experience but one which really highlights the futility of all wars.   The day was rounded off with a walk done to Buckingham Palace to pick a spot for the following days Men’s and Women’s walks and Sundays Mens marathon.

On  Saturday morning Team   Ireland had 3 representatives participating in the 50 k walk, which comprised of 25X 2k laps up the Mall past Buckingham Palace down Constitution Hill.  The morning itself was quite warm, over the previously 3 days London was experiencing a mini heat wave with temperatures in the high twenties.  That Saturday the temperatures were hitting 28/ 29 degrees centigrade.  The race walkers from the gun went at  fast pace which would  eventually see  Irelands Robert Heffernan knock over 7 minutes off the Irish record and narrowly miss out on a bronze medal  in fourth place.  Straight away Robert was talking about Rio 2016 what a competitor and well done on another fine performance.  During the course of the race I got to meet some very interesting people.  One women told me  that she had stood in front of Buckingham Palace in 1945 on V.E Day (Victory in Europe) and gain for the Queens coronation  in 1952 and her Jubilee celebrations this summer. She also had survived the German bombings/ Blitz while living with her parents as a young child. Another person I was talking to was  had relations living in Garyvoe in East Cork just down from Ballycotton (home of the famous Ballycotton 10 mile race).   After the race we made our way up to Knightsbridge where I ran into an old club mate of mine  from DCH Declan Curran  who had managed to secure  a ticket to the last athletics session that evening.  It really is a small world. After a nice lunch in Knightsbridge I ventured on to Kensington (again on foot) and went to the Natural History Museum and stroll around Hyde Park.  That evening we watched the women’s 20K walk where condition’s though still hot were more easier for the competitors.  Ireland had 2 representatives  Olive Loughnan  and Laura Reynolds.  Both girls performed very well and finished in the top 30.  The evening was finished off with Irelands John Joe Nevin in boxing winning a fine silver medal against his British opponent.”

Next Time:  Men’s Marathon: Cheering on a club mate, A 5 mile run to see some of the sights, interesting London 2012 facts.

“Inspiring a web site” Alan Worrall`s Olympic notes

Clonliffe Harrier Alan Worrall in the first of two pieces shares his Olympic diary: ““Inspire a  Generation” this was the motto/ slogan for London  2012 Games held from 27th July 2012 to August 12th 2012. The Irish public saw these games as being a “home games” due to the  close proximity to the host city and a once in  a lifetime  chance to fly over and sample the  Olympics.  Ireland had received  a taster first hand of  the “Olympic Road show” on Wednesday 6th June when for the first time the Olympic Flame came to Ireland and was paraded through the streets of Dublin on a glorious summers day.  I was privileged to see the flame on O’Connell Street with my daughter  and later we saw Sonia O’Sullivan light the Olympic Cauldron in the Stephens Green. Fast forward  to  Monday 6th August and here I am at Dublin airport about to attend my fourth Olympics.  My  anticipation about getting over for the Games  had been wetted the week previously as I watched the  Olympic action down in Kerry in the  rain.  I had become acquainted with so many sports which I would  not normally watch but due to the event time table and the glorious Kerry weather we had become experts in Archery, Canoeing, 3 day eventing, rowing etc. As we awaited our flight  a special passenger was waiting  to board.  Ronne Delaney Olympic Gold medallist from Melbourne 1956 was on our flight could this be a good omen for things to come.  More surprises a club colleague was also on the flight, Noel Guiden and family in tow.   For this Olympics I was travelling with my dad who informed me on the flight that he had very vivid memories of Ronnie Delaney’s win in Melbourne plus that he saw the great man competing in both Lansdowne Road  and Santry.

On arrival in London we caught the Gatwick Express Train to Victoria Station and then a short walk to our hotel which was located off Buckingham Palace Road.  The atmosphere in London was  electric,  the fear about security and congestion  etc had  disappeared rapidly.  The location of the hotel was ideal what with Victoria Station being a central hub for getting a train to Olympic Park and most of the Olympic venues and attractions .  This Games for me  was going to be a little bit different due to the high demand for tickets which resulted in many disappointed people getting none.  With this in mind  I made every effort to get tickets for other sports, having only managed to secure tickets for one athletics session.  I subsequently found out that most regular Irish athletics supporters were in the same boat.  Our Olympic odyssey brought us  to the Olympic Park  to see both Athletics at the Olympic Stadium and Hockey at the Riverbank arena. I would have no hesitation in saying  that these were a well run and planned Olympics, from the volunteers to the access and exit  to and from the sports venues.  Everything was so well laid out and the Park itself catered for all ages and tastes (Mc Donalds, English and Italian cuisine etc . At the  Athletics session  on the Wednesday we got to see the men’s 5 k heat where Mo Farah was roared on by crowd, unfortunately Irelands  Alistar   Cragg did not make it out  of his  heat.  But the highlight of that morning  for sport in general was the female athlete representing  Saudi Arabia competing  in an Athletics  event (800 metres) for the first time.  This  was most definitely a momentous event and even though the athlete did not qualify it was a big step for women’s sport in Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries.

On Thursday 9th August we attended the women’s football final at Wembley which was a most enjoyable evening a walk down Wembley way is one to experience what with both American and Japanese colours in attendance plus the odd union jack.  The match itself was very enjoyable and saw the U.S beat Japan 2 :1.  Prior to heading to the match we watched Katie Taylor win Irelands only Gold medal of the Games in a pub in West Minister enquiries on tickets the previous day were available with a price tag of over 200 sterling so we opted to watch it somewhere less expensive.  Katie won the Gold in a very tightly  fought bout but she produced the good’s and gave the country a great lift it so badly needed.  Tune in to the website next week for more memories of London 2012.”

Next weeks notes: Sightseeing in London,  Our walkers and marathon  man Mark Kennelly take to the streets of London.  Talking to the locals. Roll on Rio.

Mark Kenneally 57th in Olympic Marathon

Mark Kenneally has just finished the Olympic Marathon. After an exceptionally hard race for all the athletes on the streets of London in rising temperatures the Clonliffe man was 57th in 2.21.13. After the race Mark said he was very disappointed with his run: “I felt good for the first 16 or 17 miles and then I just blew up, for whatever reason, “ Kenneally said. “The last seven or eight miles were a struggle to get home. I’ll sit down and review what went wrong and try to put it right for the next time. It’s disappointing because you want to get your best one out in the Olympics With two kilometres to go, I was really dizzy and thought that I was going to have to stop. At that point it was just damage limitation and trying to get to the finish. I was trying to run inside my personal best (2:13.55) and I’m in much better shape when I was when I ran that time. It’s not obvious to me right now what went wrong today. I got all my drinks and I did not go out too fast. I’ll think about it and try to move forward from the disappointment. It’s great to have the Olympic experience and everything but I want to perform on this stage. Hopefully, in four years time I can still be around and make this right.” (Taken from www.athleticsireland.ie)

Alistair finishes well down in Olympic 5,000 heats

Clonliffe Harrier Alistair Cragg finished well down in his heat in this morning`s 5,000m in the Olympic Stadium, London. In this his third Olympic games Alistair found the pace in heat number 2 simply too hot to handle, with this race considerably faster than heat 1 he was reeling off laps around the 64/65 second mark however drifted to the back of the pack and out the back door before half way. He worked his way back to the pack a lap later and tried to move around the outside to the front. The pace picked up again and it was not to be his day as he drifted backwards and was dropped. A lowly 17th in a time of 13.47.01 was scant reward as one would assume that brings the curtin down on his international track career. Post race Alister was quoted on athleticsireland.ie as follows:

“When I caught the leader again they did not give me a second to get my feet,” Cragg said. “I was hoping to get in front because sometimes when you’re hurting and you are able to get your nose in front you forget about the hurting.”

No doubt Alistair`s thoughts are already looking towards the roads, where he has enjoyed considerable success in recent years, witness his Irish best in the New York City Half Marathon, and his unfinished business with the Marathon. For now, well done Alistair,. three Olympic Games in something to be proud of.

On the subject of the London Olympic Games an update on the performances of some of the athletes who visited Clonliffe for the Morton Games: both Zoe Buckman (AUS) and Lucy Van Dalen (NZL) went as far as the 1500 semis, Jessica Smith (CAN) went as far as the 800 semi, Emma Coburn (USA) got to the 3,000 sc final where she ran a pb of 9.23.54 in finishing 9th, Matt Centrowitz (USA) finished just a fraction away from an Olympic medal 4th in the 1500 final (3.35.17) and Nick Symmonds (USA) ran a pb of 1.42.95 in finishing 5th in that race of the Olympics the David Rudisha World Record 800 final.

Cragg and Kenneally ready to enter Olympic fray

Clonliffe duo Alistair Cragg and Mark Kenneally are ready for the off as the Olympic Athletics Programme commences tomorrow, Friday. Alistair Cragg will be taking part in his third Olympic Games. He runs in Round 1 of the 5000 metres at 10.45 a.m. on Wednesday next August 8th with the realistic aspiration of making his third Olympic final on August 11th. Cragg has maintained a very low key approach to this Olympic Games and on his day is capable of producing a very fast 5000 metres, witness his run in last September’s Van Damm Meet in Brussels. Mark Kenneally on the other hand makes his Olympic debut and is not in action until Sunday week, August 12th at 11 a.m. in the marathon.

The first Irish competitors in action in the track and field programme are on the blocks tomorrow morning with Joanne Cuddihy in the women’s 400 at 12 noon and then tomorrow evening Morton Miler Ciaran O’Lionaird runs in the 1500 metres Round 1 at 8.50 p.m. with Fionnuala Britton running in the 10,000 final at 9.25 p.m. See www.athleticsireland.ie   for timetable of Irish athletes in action in these Olympic Games.

Other athletes whom Clonliffe members will be familiar with are recent Morton Games participants Ryan Gregson (AUS) in the 1500m, Matt Centrowitz (USA) 1500m and Eloise Wellings (AUS) in opposition to Fionnuala Britton in the 10,000 metres all in action tomorrow night.

 

 

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