Thursday 20 September 2018

Pollock still has Rio hopes

Paul Pollock (SPORTSFILE)
Paul Pollock (SPORTSFILE)

With Annadale's Paul Pollock not starting and Claire Gibbons McCarthy of Leevale not finishing, last weekend's results from the London Marathon mean that the official list of marathon qualifiers for the Rio Olympics remains unchanged.

Best of the Irish in London was Seán Hehir with a personal best time of 2:17.30. Thomas Frazer ran 2:19.17 and Stephen Sculion 2:20.39.

The big question remains whether Paul Pollock should be selected. Under the rules, the top three fastest qualifiers will be selected on May 23 - and at the moment, Pollock lies in fourth place behind Kevin Seaward, Mick Clohisey and Sergiu Ciobanu.

His time of 2:15.38 from Berlin last October puts him just 24 seconds behind Ciobanu.

No one denies Pollock's class, which he proved when he ran 62 minutes 46 seconds for 14th place at the World Half Marathon in Cardiff less than a month ago.

Some distance behind him came Seaward in 65 mins 23 secs and Ciobanu in 66 mins 30 secs. Pollock's top priority now is to prove his fitness to the selectors.

When it comes to the women, Lizzie Lee with a time of 2:32.51 and Fionnuala McCormack with 2:33.15 top the rankings followed by Breege Connolly with 2:37.27 from London last year.

McCarthy, it was felt, could have gone faster than Connolly last Sunday. She went through the halfway mark in a sluggish 78 mins 1 sec and dropped out soon after the 30km mark.

Connolly has not shown much form in the past year although she paid her annual visit to the Bundoran 10-Mile last month where she was second woman in 59 mins 8 secs; a year earlier, she had run 57 mins 40 secs.

Last Wednesday, Connolly ran the 3k at the Queen's road races in Belfast and finished second behind recently crowned European indoor W35 800m champion Kelly Neely of Lisburn AC. Neely sprinted home in 9 mins 49 secs; Connolly finished in 10 mins 2 secs.

As matters stands, Connolly has won the right to be selected for Rio - and she could be joined by fellow North Belfast Harrier Gladys Ganiel-O'Neill if Fionnula McCormack opts for the 10,000m over the marathon in Rio.

Ganiel-O'Neill ran a time of 2:38.53 last February in Seville - not bad for a women who has had a baby and published a book in the past few months.

The selectors may also have to factor in the form of Maria McCambridge, who dropped out of the Milan Marathon a few weeks ago but is rumoured to be running the Geneva Marathon in ten days time.

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