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Olympic hopeful Derval has to bum lifts around Europe in warm up for Games

OLYMPIC hopeful Derval O'Rourke has been forced to bum lifts around Europe to warm up for next month's Games.

The hurdling star arrived tired and with heavy legs before a Grand Prix event in Austria after she was left with no option but to squash into a Renault Clio with other athletes on a road trip.

Despite being a European and World indoor and outdoor medallist, she was refused a Russian visa for a competition in Moscow and had to resort to a seven-hour car ride with British athletes Andrew Steele and Richard Strachan.

But the good-humoured star says that earning second place in the event was "priceless" compared to the drama of the 500km road trip.

She said: "I was supposed to race in Slovenia and then Moscow. Unfortunately the peeps in the Russian embassy didn't want to play ball and give me a visa on time.

"For me this season is just kicking off and I need to get race-fit, so my Russian rejection was an issue.

"The solution of a road trip through Europe seemed like the best possible option.

"Team Cahill were all about hitting Slovenia and then moving it on to Austria in order to race. It's important to note that at this time of year us athletes will do anything for a good meet and an opportunity to improve."

The 2006 World Indoor champion and two-time European silver medallist at 100m hurdles who recently had to pay €10 to train at Dublin's ASLAA track, saw the funny side of having to take a long-haul car ride.

"Eventually, I found two other athletes willing to take the show on the road with me."

She thanked 400m runner Andrew Steele and 200m competitor Richard Strachan "for embracing the plan".

"The three of us rented a car, downloaded a map of Austria, and off we went.

"Andrew drove the whole way and we just had the craic. We covered every topic you can imagine and laughed our asses off. Seven hours after setting off in Slovenia we rolled up in the Clio in Ried."







Pipped

Desperate for a practice run, O'Rourke went on to race the next day with heavy legs.

"The next day I got ready to race. I messed up and was annoyed. Then I had a little talk with myself.

"I came out for the final determined to work on my hurdle mistakes. I'm happy to say I ran far better and was only just pipped by Beate Schott into second."

hnews@herald.ie