Well done to Clonliffe’s Alistair Cragg on his excellent Olympic 5000m debut. He qualified in 7th place for the final in 13:23.01, with the winner Bekele getting 13:21.18. Mark Carroll was unfortunate not to go through despite his efforts to push the early pace where he led for several laps.
Following his run Alistair said in an interview that he ran ‘within himself’ and that he enjoyed being a bit of an unknown in the field. His Mayo-born coach, John McDonnell told him to go out and enjoy himself and to treat it as ‘just another race’. He had been letting the ‘whole Olympic experience’ get to him earlier in the week but he said that as he walked around the Olympic village he realised that the other athletes were human too and that he didn’t fear the Africans. In the end he went out and made sure that he would get into the final and was able to say that he enjoyed it tremendously. As he put it, people remember you when you get into the final and the memory of it would stick forever in his mind. The truth is that he has great potential and has already run 13:12 in London and was 16th in the World Cross-Country this year.
South-African born (1980), Alistair declared for Ireland in 2002 through his Irish Grandparents. He is well known on the US Collegiate circuit where he runs for the University of Arkansas, studying Marketing Management. His family have made London their home and when he was declaring for Ireland and looking for a club, his coach (McDonnell) told him that he should choose Clonliffe. Alistair has had some real successes over the past couple of years and qualified for the Olympics in April at the Cardinal Invitational in Stanford (USA) with a 5000m time of 13:16.98. In July this year he also comfortably won the National 1500m and in London on the Grand-Prix circuit he finished 5th in 13:12, behind none other than Haile Gebreselassie. While he was in Dublin he went out with some of the gang from the club and got to enjoy a bit of ‘Irish Hospitality’ organised by Captain Joe, with Killian Lonergan and Gary O’Hanlon amongst others. After his win on the last day of the Nationals, himself and his Dad met up with a lot of the Clonliffe lads (including Mark Kennelly who had just won the 5000m, Gary O’Hanlon, Nigel Brunton and Gerry Kiernan) and other competitors such as James Nolan in the club-house where they had a chance to unwind.
The very best wishes to Alistair in the Final, go out and enjoy the moment, you’ve already made us proud.