BY CHRIS MCNULTY
LETTERKENNY’S Catriona Jennings has become the latest Donegal athlete to reach an Olympic qualifying time – and has given Athletics Ireland selectors a real headache.
Hawthorn Heights native Jennings, who runs with the Rathfarnham club in Dublin, yesterday became the fourth Irish woman to achieve the Olympic standard for the marathon. Jennings completed the Rotterdam Marathon in 2:36.14 – some 45 seconds under the ‘A’ standard for London.
Jennings is the second Donegal woman to achieve a time inside the standard. She joins Maria McCambridge (Letterkenny AC) 2:36:37, as well as Linda Byrne (Dundrum South Dublin AC) 2:36:23 and Ava Hutchinson (Dundrum South Dublin AC) 2:35:33 in achieving the time – but there will be disappointment for one of them as Ireland can take just three of them.
“I’m there now and have the time. I’m in with a shout and hopefully things go my way. Fingers crossed,”
said a delighted Jennings, speaking from Rotterdam yesterday.
“It was a good run and a lot of hard work has paid off.” Jennings revealed that she had set off ‘too conservately’.
She said: “I got a bit of a shock when I went through the first mile 20 seconds slower than I should have.
“I didn’t panic thankfully and got through it. It went well. It was brilliant when i crossed the line and I was inside the target. I am delighted.
“It was a really good race for me.
“A big target for me was the 30k mark. From there I just went for it. I was bang on where I wanted to be and with six miles to go I just put the foot down.”
Yesterday’s was only Jennings’ second marathon, but she has now given the selectors a real dilemma – including Donegal’s own Patsy McGonagle, who is manager of the Irish Athletics team for the London Games.
“It’s an absolutely brilliant achievement for her. She is over the moon. She’s from a great sporting family and it’s a great story,” said McGonagle. The team is expected to be confirmed on June 12th, with Jennings now joining a growing list of athletes from the county who hope to live the Olympic dream. Finn Valley pole vaulter Tori Pena, Milford walker Brendan Boyce and badminton player Chloe Magee, from Raphoe, as well as marathon duo McCambridge and Jennings are all aiming to be in London.
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