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O'Rourke faces race to be fit for Olympics

IRISH star Derval O'Rourke is in a race against time to be fit for the Olympics after she was forced to pull out of her run at the National Championships yesterday in Santry.

O'Rourke, who has been struggling for form and fitness, was sidelined after picking up a back spasm during her warm-up.

"She raced twice in Loughborough on Saturday, things went okay," her coach Sean Cahill said. "She flew back late last night and everything was fine, no sign of any injuries whatsoever.

"She was doing her warm-up and was about to go over one last hurdle -- flat out -- and suddenly her back went into spasm. Our best hope is that it is something neural, a trapped nerve. If there's a muscle pull or tear there then obviously that's not good at all. It's fingers crossed really."

The Leevale athlete's preparation for the games which begin in under three weeks has been seriously impeded by the setback.

There was controversy over the weekend at Santry when Catriona Cuddihy's Olympic dreams were cruelly brought to an end.

Cuddihy was named in the Irish 4x400m relay team ahead of Joanna Mills, of Ballymena and Antrim, but Mills appealed the decision as her seasonal best of 54.41 is better than Cuddihy's personal best of 54.49.

Cuddihy was reduced to tears when she learned on Saturday Mills' appeal had been successful and she was out of the team.

Catriona's sister Joanne, speaking after adding the 400m to her 200m national crown, told of her sister's heartbreak at the decision.

"It's been a very frustrating and difficult weekend," Joanne said. "It's been heart-wrenching, just so difficult for everyone concerned."