Five Irish athletes reach Olympic marathon standard

SportBy Sean McGoldrick
For the first time since 1992 Ireland look set to have a full team competing in an Olympic marathon
For the first time since 1992 Ireland look set to have a full team competing in an Olympic marathon

Five Irish athletes achieved the Rio Olympics qualifying standard for the 26.2 mile event in the Berlin marathon today.

Four men; Kevin Seaward (2:14.52), Sergiu Ciobuna (2:15.14), Mick Clohisey (2:15.35) and Paul Pollock (2.15.38) all comfortably dipped under the qualifying standard of 2:17.0 while Lizzie Lee was 17th overall in the women’s race in 2:32.51, comfortably inside the 2:42.0 standard.

The Leevale AC athlete is almost certainly guaranteed selection for the Rio Olympics in 2016 based on this performance but the situation regarding the men is more problematic.

In fact five Irish male athletes have now dipped under the qualifying standard but only three places are available on the team. 

Whatever the final decision the Athletic Association of Ireland make next spring it is likely that for the first time since the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 Ireland will have a full team of male runners in the Olympics marathon in Rio.

Martin Fagan, who returned to the sport having served a ban for using EPO, ran 2:16.09 in Zurich last April, but subsequently announced his retirement from competitive athletics.

But in addition to the quartet who dipped under the qualifying standard today there were six others who just missed out and they will almost certainly run a spring marathon in 2016 in an effort to improve their times.

Galway’s Gary Thorton was 39th in 2:17.19 while Clare native Sean Hehir, who like Mick Clohisey is coached by three time Olympic marathoner Dick Hooper, was 41st in 2:17.48. On his debut marathon Raheny Shamrock’s Mark Kirwan ran 2:19.30 while Gary Murray (Clonliffe Harriers) 2:21.09, Mark Hanrahan, (Leevale AC) 2:21.13 and Tom Fitzpatrick (Tallaght AC), 2:22.18 were also in the mix.

The surprise packet was St Malachy’s AC clubman Kevin Seaward – who is Paul Pollock’s training partner. He chipped four minutes off his personal best on what is regarded as the fastest marathon course in the world to finish 21st in a world class field.

The second Irish man home was Sergiu Ciobanu who was born in Moldova but has been living in Ireland for a decade and his formal transfer was ratified by the IAAF in July. He was 13 seconds inside his personal best.

A member of Raheny Shamrock AC, Mick Clohisey was running his second marathon having run 2:17.35 on his debut in Rotterdam last spring. He pipped the most experienced of the quartet Paul Pollock in the race to be the third Irishman home by three seconds.