Thursday, January 19, 2012

London 2012 Marathon - who will go?

Marathon runners Ava Hutchinson and Linda Byrne may have run the A standard for the London Olympics but, as yet, neither is sure of an Olympic place.

In the past, with three places on offer, the National Championships acted as an Olympic trial, with the winner guaranteed a place, providing they made the qualifying time. If several athletes came home under the qualifying mark, then the fastest two got picked.

Under those guidelines, Linda Byrne, winner of the national title last October in Dublin, would have been sure of her place.

Ava Hutchinson
Byrne's time of 2 hours 36 minutes 20 seconds in her first ever marathon was achieved through hard work and impressive discipline on the day. With 190 days to go until London 2012, Byrne will not run another marathon; she feels her time in Dublin should be enough.

One woman learning a hard lesson in Dublin was Ava Hutchinson; she finished in a disappointing 2:42.50. All was forgotten last Saturday when Hutchinson, fully fit this time,  emulated Byrne's Dublin tactics  in Houston. She started slow, and then stuck to an even  pace she could manage until she reached the finish. Her time of 2:35.33 put her comfortably inside the Olympics A standard  of 2:37.

While Hutchinson and Byrne are likely to make the London 2012 team, all could change radically over the next few weeks. Maria McCambridge ran 2:35.29 in Paris two years ago, but could manage only 2:40.26 in Dublin last October - only months after the birth of son Dylan.

At the age of 36, McCambridge knows time is running out. She will run a marathon in the next few weeks - Seville on February 19 or Barcelona a month later on March 17 are two options - and if she gets her pacing right, could nail down the third place.

There are others who fancy their chances. The 2010 national marathon champion Barbara Sanchez ran her first race after a long break last week, and could join Caitriona Jennings, Lorraine Manning, Annette Kealy, Lizzie Lee, Breege Connolly, and Rosemary Ryan at the Rotterdam Marathon on April 15. Then there's Gladys Ganiel, who may line out in London after clocking 2:40.56 in Houston.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Gymnast Behan for London 2012

Kieran Behan - flying high
Gymnast Kieran Behan is the latest addition to the Irish team for London 2012 after finishing 34th position at the London Prepares gymnastics test event.
Behan, born in London of Irish parents,  placed sixth in his specialist floor discipline at the North Greenwich arena on Tuesday night, but had to wait until yesterday to find out whether that it was good enough for an Olympic place.
He is only the second gymnast to qualify for an Olympics; Barry McDonald made the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.
Behan, now 22,  has had a tough struggle to the top of his sport.  After the removal of  non-cancerous tumour on his leg when he was 10, he was initially confined to a wheelchair but made a good recovery and, after 15 months, was back in the gym.  
Then aged 12,  he slipped and banged his head while working on the high bar damaging his inner ear and causing black outs if he moved suddenly.
After much rehabilitation, Behan returned to the gym after three years before  rupturing the anterior cruciate ligaments in both of his knees in separate incidents in 2010.
That proved a minor set-back and World Cup series success last year and a solid performance at the World Championships in Tokyo earned him a place at the Olympics test event.