McCambridge to reassess plans after London omission

Alan Foley


Alan Foley

Maria McCambridge has set herself new goals after failing to get the nomination for the Olympic marathon.

Maria McCambridge has set herself new goals after failing to get the nomination for the Olympic marathon.

Four Irish women made the A-Standard of 2:37.00, but, in line with all other competing nations, only three were selected for the Games.

Letterkenny AC’s McCambridge ran 2:36.27 in Rome and Letterkenny native Caitriona Jennings made the time in the Rotterdam marathon with 2:36.17.

Dundrum South Dublin AC’s Linda Byrne qualified with 2:36.26 in Dublin, while her clubmate, Ava Hutchinson, had the fastest time of the four, 2:35.33.

Athletics Ireland brought the date of their decision forward from June 12 to Monday last and it was McCambridge who learned she was not selected for London, believing the only differential taken into account was qualifying times.

“It definitely is,” she said. “The report might say otherwise but I believe so. I was just glad in the end up to get the decision over with.

“Kevin Ankrom, the high performance director of Athletics Ireland, called me. I then received an email explaining the criteria. I’m my own biggest critic and had consulted a lot of people on these criteria and definitely felt I had met it.

“How they interpreted it was very different. It was all very vague. It needs to be made a bit more clear cut but I’m not in Athletics Ireland.”

Their criteria for all events where more than three athletes have attained the A-Standard is based on consistency and repeatability of performances in 2011/12; relevant statistical data/rankings; on-demand performances at previous championships; competitive record of athletes against one another; and athletes’ final phase readiness.

McCambridge, an Olympian in 2004 in Athens, opted not to take the appeal route.

She had initially sought to make the A-Standard in Seville in February, only to find confusion of whether it was one of the courses allocated to obtain the standard. After learning it wasn’t, she decided on Rome in March.

“Rome wasn’t my original plan,” she said. “I was going to Seville in February and had planned specifically for that. I tried to find out was it a legitimate course in terms of Olympic qualification.

“It was hard to find a specific list at the time. I made a lot of phonecalls, ringing the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations). They couldn’t give me answers and eventually I got the race director of Seville, who said it wasn’t valid.

“I had two choices, Rome or Los Angeles. Logistically, Los Angeles was too far and I thought Rome was a good course. I knew there were cobblestones but didn’t think it would be as bad as it was.

“About 10km of cobbles was not an easy thing to manage. I wasn’t happy with my race and never celebrated. I was relieved to have made the standard but was aiming for a much better time.”

The quartet faced an anxious wait whilst continuing to train before Monday’s announcement.

“I knew I could give London my best shot,” McCambridge said. “I have the base and core work done and was ready for the 10-week programme. That was the plan. Unfortunately now I cannot do that.”

McCambridge, despite her disappointment, was back running on Monday and is now switching her attention to the track and qualification for the 10,000m at the European Athletic Championships, which take place in Helsinki from June 27.

“Monday was a hard day and I was devastated,” she said. “I love running and now I need to focus on a new goal.

“I’m going to do a few track races and see where I am at. Ultimately, my heart is in the marathon and as much as I’d love to say I could do some great things on the track I’ll have to see.

“Suddenly I have to learn to hurt again over 5k or 10k. It’s very different.

“I was looking at the 10,000m for the Europeans but that was only really preparation for the London marathon. There is a 10,000m challenge in Bilbao in two weeks time.

“I’m going to give it a good shot. The official time is 33:25 but I’ve not heard if Athletics Ireland have made the standard any higher.

“I wish the girls the best in London. We’re competitors. I’ll be the biggest competitor there but am not into anything but running.

“The nature of running means there’s always something coming up, although it’s not always the Olympics.”