Dejected runner will not appeal decision


ATHLETICS:MARIA McCAMBRIDGE put on a brave face yesterday after learning that she was the marathon runner to lose out in the selection process for the three women who will make up the Irish challenge in the event for the Olympic Games in London during the first two weeks in August.

She will not take up the option of lodging an appeal against the decision which was made yesterday by the five-member Athletic Ireland selection committee.

“The decision has been made and I will be accepting it,” said McCambridge, who was seeking selection to her second Olympics, having competed in the 5,000 metres in 2004.

“It has been an agonising wait but at least it’s over and I can get on with other things because these past couple of weeks have been difficult with so much riding on something that is actually out of your hands.

“The wait just consumes your life, [it is] difficult to concentrate and hard to sleep. One minute you are confident and the next you feel down in the dumps. Like the others I was keeping my fingers crossed I would make it, but at least the agonising wait is over.”

The Dubliner was one of the four athletes to have beaten the two hours 37 minutes A standard set by the IAAF, but the committee opted for the other three qualified runners: Linda Byrne of Dundrum SD, her club-mate Ava Hutchinson and Caitriona Jennings of Rathfarnham, all of whom will experience Olympic competition for the first time.

The selection criteria were based on five guidelines: consistency and repeatability of performances in 2011/12; relevant statistical data/rankings; athletes’ “on-demand” performances at previous championships; competitive record of athletes against one another; athletes’ “final phase” readiness.

Byrne was always favourite to make the team since she became the first qualifier in Dublin last October with 2:36.23, with the other three qualifiers all behind her, Hutchinson with 2:35.33 in Houston, McCambridge with 2:36.37 in Rome before Jennings made a late swoop for 2:36.17 in Rotterdam to kick-start the debate about which three would go.

The disappointing news was delivered in a phone call to McCambridge by Kevin Ankrom, the AAI performance director. “I know there is an appeal process but I could not see the selectors going back on their decision. It would be just impossible for them and so I’ll be taking this decision on the chin.”

If there was one regret being held by McCambridge it was opting for the Rome marathon to get the time and not one of the other big city events. “I just feel I made a bad choice in opting for Rome rather than somewhere else, like LA, because the course in Rome was very difficult and I had some awful problems with the cobblestones.Now I will try and pick up the pieces for Dublin in October because I still think there is a fast marathon in my legs.”

Jennings and Byrne heard their good tidings while training in Portugal. “It was such a relief to get the call and the good news,” said Jennings. “It was the most fantastic news because all four of us have put an amount of hours in training and my heart goes out to Maria because she has been a leader for women’s distance running over the years.”

Four other qualified athletes were also nominated by AAI to the Olympic Council for ratification, including the three 50km walkers, Robert Heffernan, Brendan Boyce and Colin Griffin who have all quailed plus our sole men’s marathon representative, Mark Kenneally of Clonliffe.

Heffernan will be competing in his fourth Olympics, having first made it to Sydney in 2000.