Two Donegal female athletes are at the centre of a major dilemma facing Athletics Ireland over the selection of the Irish Women’s Marathon team for this Summer’s Olympic Games in London.
The two, Caitriona Jennings, a native of Letterkenny and runs for Rathfarnam AC in Dublin and Maria McCambridge, who ironically hails from Dublin, but lives in Letterkenny and runs in the colours of Letterkenny AC.
They have both achieved the A standard qualifying time for the London Marathon and are among four that have run inside the target time of 2:37:00. However, with only three places available it leaves Athletics Ireland with a serious selection headache.
“It gives us a serious dilemma, because four into three won’t go and unfortunately somebody is going to lose out which is going to be very disappointing for whoever that is going to be,” said Irish Athletics manager for the Games Patsy McGonagle, who is also a member of the selection committee.
“As one of the selectors I have a serious personal dilemma as I know both Caitriona (Jennings) and Maria (McCambridge) so well. But who knows, the two Donegal girls could make it.
“The three will not be selected until June 12th, though personally I would favour a much earlier date as it would give those selected more time to get focused and prepare for the Games. I also want to emphasise, contrary to what is being reported elsewhere over the weekend, the selection is the sole responsibility of Athletics Ireland and nobody else.”
The Irish manager went on to add that all the athletes had signed up to the selection process and that there was an appeals process open to whatever athlete did not make the team.
Of the two Donegal ladies Caitriona Jennings is the fastest and her qualifying time, 2:36:14, is in second place behind Ava Hutchinson (2:35:33), with National Marathon Champion Lisa Byrne (2:36:23) third and Maria McCambridge (2:36:37) in fourth place.
Jennings has been the latest to meet the standard with her run in Rotterdam on Sunday, in what is a personal best time for the Letterkenny runner.
“It was a brilliant feeling when I crossed the line and discovered that I had achieved what I had set out to do and make the qualifying time,” said Caitriona.
“The race went well. It was very windy and my second half was much faster that the first half. I got a bit of a surprise at the half way stage when I was slower than what I had targeted. But I worked my way up through the field in the second half and I was very happy with the time at the finish.
“I’ve done the time and I’m in with a shout of making the team and hopefully I will. It is all up to the selectors now fingers crossed.”