O'Rourke feels there's a lot more in the tank
ATHLETICS WOMEN'S 100m HURDLES:THE FIRST thing Derval O’Rourke can never be accused of is not peaking when it really matters. The second thing she can never be accused of is not speaking when it really matters.
O’Rourke proved that again here yesterday morning, on both counts, as it turned out, clearly in peak form in making the semi-finals of the 100 metres hurdles, and speaking afterwards only about the things that really mattered, too.
She will probably need to be at the peak of her life to make the final, which takes place later this evening, but she’s certainly ready to give it her best shot – clocking a season’s best of 12.91 seconds, fourth in her heat, to book her place in the second of the three semi-finals.
It was actually her second fastest time since winning the silver medal at the European Championships in Barcelona two years ago and while O’Rourke admitted afterwards that it wasn’t the perfect run, there was certainly a little more in the tank.
“I’m satisfied, I’m not thrilled,” she said in typically frank fashion. “It takes more than that to thrill me. I’m a bit disappointed I wasn’t top three, because I should have been, but there was a little lapse in the middle of the race but there’s a lot more there.
“I’ve a lot of faith in myself and I’m just disappointed I didn’t get a big Q next to my name But I know from training that there is a lot more there. I did hit the first hurdle nice, thankfully, because my first hurdle in warm-up was brutal, and I think Seán Cahill wanted to kick me. Hopefully he’s relatively happy with that but I know he’ll tell me that I need to work much harder and there’s much more there.”
When inevitably asked to speak about some of the issues surrounding her build-up to London, such as the puzzling comments from Athletics Ireland high performance director Kevin Ankrom, who questioned O’Rourke’s game-plan in staying in familiar surroundings at home in Dublin as long as possible, and also the betting controversy that surrounded her boyfriend, sailor Peter O’Leary, a couple of weeks earlier, she simply addressed the part that mattered to her.
“The funny thing about the Olympics is you come into the Olympics, and I’m well aware of what people are like, and some people start to act despicably, in the last couple of weeks and before it.
“For me, I’ve got such experience that I’m not going to leave people’s absolutely awful behaviour take me down. I know there’s so many people at home who want me to do well, and I just concentrate on that. I ignore the people who just write in papers and can’t run to save their lives.
“Nothing has bothered me in the past three weeks. I’m out here and I’m coming back fighting. I’m very appreciative for the people who support me and you can’t buy loyalty. Thankfully there’s a good few loyal ones out there.”
The betting controversy, she made clear, was “irrelevant to my sprint hurdling” and as for Ankrom’s comments, widely reported by some newspapers, they seemed to matter even less.
“I didn’t even know, actually,” she said. “Hess told me last night, jokingly. And if I started reading the more tabloidy-type pieces that are written I don’t think I’d get out of bed in the morning. That doesn’t bother me. I’ll have a chat with Kevin after this and I’m sure he’ll be relatively happy with it. He knows what my plans are, I know where he stands and it’s all good.
“I don’t think there was ever a question . I emailed Sonia about it about six months ago and she was very supportive of it. Sonia never did holding camp and I think she thought it was a good idea. You know, different strokes for different folks. I was in Dublin and it’s obviously working out alright.
“But look, I’ve still a lot more to do, 12.91 isn’t good enough and there has to be more. I need to be running fast in the middle hurdles.”
Indeed she’ll need to be running fast over all 10 hurdles – drawn in lane three alongside Lolo Jones, who has a best of 12.43, with Australia’s gold medal favourite Sally Pearson in lane seven, who has run 12.28.
O’Rourke’s best of 12.65 might have to be lowered to make that final, with only the first two, and the two fastest losers from the three semi-finals, going on to the final. But O’Rourke is there with a shout and still peaking and speaking when it really matters.