End in sight for dejected Ó'Lionáird


Olympic Athletics:  Both Fionnuala Britton and Ciarán Ó’Lionaird finished well off the pace in their respective disciplines this evening, and the latter spoke of chasing other dreams in the immediate aftermath of his 1,500m heat, after a tough season disrupted by injury.

The 24-year-old Leevale runner struggled for position throughout in what turned out to be the slowest of the heats and always looked troubled when trying to make up ground in the outside lanes.

The Corkman was hampered by an Achilles injury that has made life difficult all year and after his 13th place finish produced a season’s best (3:48.35) that was a long way off his personal best (3:34.36), he said he was ready to quit.

“I wasn’t comfortable for any of it, I’m not fit,” he told RTÉ. “I have only had a month’s training. Even now my Achilles is screaming, as usual. Every step I take hurts, every step all year has hurt.

“I’ve done everything I can to get ready for the race and be here at the Olympics but to be honest, you know, whilst I don’t enjoy the day to day running, especially when I’m in pain, I don’t enjoy this, so I think it’s time to re-evaluate and figure out something else to do with my life, because this isn’t it.”

The Corkman later tweeted: “Well, at least I don’t have to run anymore.”

Britton was 17th fastest of the 22 starters in the 10,000m before tonight, so her 15th place finish was some improvement on form but scant consolation after she finished one minute 26 seconds behind Ethiopian Tirunesh Dibaba, who retained her Olympic crown, ahead of Kenyans Sally Kipyego and world champion Vivian Cheruiyot.

New Zealand’s Nicholas Willis looked supremely comfortable in winning the third heat in a time of 3:40.92, while Algeria’s Taoufik Makhloufi was quickest heading into the semi-finals after a time of 3:35.15.

After an anxious wait this afternoon, Joanne Cuddihywas confirmed as an Olympic 400m semi-finalist, having posted the fastest time of the runners-up in the opening heats.

The Kilkenny athlete finished fourth in the first heat of seven and posted a time of 52.09 seconds.

Outside the top three in the following six heats, that time was not bettered and was good enough to ensure she’ll be back on the track this evening (8.05pm), in the hope she can improve a notch and maybe post a personal best.

It’s been five years since she has run 50.73 for an Irish record, however, and today's run, she admitted afterwards, showed no sign of that form.

Cuddihy was out of the blocks quickly and prior to learning of her qualification she said she probably went too fast early on. The last 100 metres proved difficult for her and Kenyan Joy Nakhumicha Sakari took third behind winner Francena McCorory of America and Britain’s Olympic champion Christine Ohuruogu.

“I’m gutted really," the 28-year-old told RTÉ immediately afterwards. “That’s just not good enough. My legs just absolutely died in the latter bit of the race. I was sick with nerves before the race, I was worried that I’d chicken out and be over-cautious. I probably overcompensated for that and just went for it.

“It wasn’t intended to be such a suicide mission. I really thought from training that’s what I need to do. I genuinely thought I could do it, it was only towards the end that I just couldn’t do anything about it. I tried everything I could.”

Amantle Monthso of Botswana was quickest of the 24 qualifiers in a time of 50.40 seconds.

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