Friday 26 May 2017

Hession hoping experience can make all the difference

Marie Crowe

Marie Crowe

Paul Hession arrives in Barcelona ranked fifth-fastest in Europe over 200 metres this year and, if his recent times are anything to go by, then he won't be far off a medal.

For Hession, those runners with experience of big championships are the ones to watch in Barcelona and, after years of competing on the international circuit, the Galway man feels he now fits that category. He has reached Olympic and World semi-finals but now he believes he has his best opportunity for a podium finish.

"Experience gives you a bit of confidence when you are running against guys who may not have been to an Olympics or not got that far in an Olympics," agrees Hession. "You know you have something in the bank that they don't have. Sometimes you can fool yourself into feeling more confident but that's the way sports psychology works."

Eight years have passed since Hession first made the Irish team. A lot has been learned since then and he has seen his role in the team evolve too.

"When I started out I learned a lot from the more experienced people like Peter Coghlan and Paul McKee. They made me feel very welcome in the team and I would like to think that I'm repaying that debt now. For example, young athlete Steven Colvert has made his first championship and I hope someone like him would be able to talk to me and learn for me."

Hession has been touted as a serious medal contender, one of Ireland's great hopes of the European Championships, but pressure comes with the territory and he says he has learned to enjoy it, not to be damaged by it.

But the reality is if he wants a medal he will need to break his Irish record of 20.30. His competition is tougher than ever -- 20-year-old Christophe Lemaitre of France recently became the first white man to run the 100 metres in under 10 seconds -- but Hession isn't fazed.

"Everything has gone to plan, training, races, preparation and I'm confident that I can perform. You never know what everyone else is going to do but I'm confident I can go out and do something. I'm looking forward to it."

Sunday Independent

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