Pollock shows his potential as Kiprotich claims marathon gold in impressive style
Irishman ready to commit to athletics full-time as he finishes as second best European and in 21st place overall
It is a World Championships but finishing second best European in the men’s marathon – and 21st overall – has given Paul Pollock considerable optimism for the future, especially as he enters the life of a full-time athlete.
Pollock finished up his last shift as a junior doctor in a Belfast hospital last week, before departing for Moscow, having reached a stage in his medical career when he able to take a break.
So the plan now is to put all his energy into his running career, at least up until the Rio Olympics, and on that basis alone there must be room for some substantial improvement.
While Uganda’s Olympic champion Stephen Kiprotich repeated his dominance in London last summer to win the gold – his time of 2:09.51 looking easy, despite the hot conditions – Pollock slowly moved through the field, picking up runners all the way, choosing to start at the back of the field.
“That was the plan, to run the first half conservatively, and go through in about 66, 67 minutes,” he said.
“I went through in about 67:45, felt fairly comfortable. I was pouring water over myself all the way, but I coped okay with the conditions. It was a very hard race, but I definitely think there’s a lot more there, running in temperatures of 30 degrees can add a couple of minutes to your time.
“My coach and I thought we could be top 10 coming in, but that was unrealistic looking now at all the Africans up front. But 21st and second European though, I have to be happy with that. It’s a step in the right direction.”
It sure is, and the only European to finish ahead of him was Spain’s Javier Guerra (2:14:33) in 15th: Pollock was also just 12 seconds shy of his lifetime best, set when winning the national title in Dublin last October.
Kiprotich, who credits a move to live and train in Kenya as the reason behind his marathon success, became Uganda’s first ever world champion, while Kenya, who had won every title since 2005, were run out of the medals completely.
Ethiopia’s Boston marathon winner Lelisa Desisa took silver, 21 seconds behind in 2:10:12, and compatriot Tadese Tola took third a further 11 seconds back.
While Pollock has made the brave decision of putting his medical career on hold, he must now decide whether or not to target the European marathon next summer, or the Commonwealth Games, given he is also eligible to compete there for Northern Ireland.
In the meantime, however, he is committing to the Irish team for the European Cross Country in December.