Hopefuls hit out at AAI deadline

ATHLETICS: Four Irish women have achieved the marathon Olympic marathon qualification standard (2:37), but there are only three places available to each country in London and the Irish athletes won’t know who is going until June 12.

It has thrown up a massive dilemma for the Athletics Ireland (AAI) selectors, with three of the four contenders echoing the same sentiment: bring the date forward. Maria McCambridge, a 2004 Olympian, summed up their feelings. “I’m head-wrecked,” she said. “I really think it’s unfair to keep us waiting.”

National marathon champion Linda Byrne echoed that sentiment. “It would have been fairer if we had the selection in the next couple of weeks,” said Byrne.

The most recent qualifier, Dublin-based Donegal athlete Caitriona Jennings, agreed. “June 12 is only about six weeks before the Olympic marathon, it’s just crazy,” she said.

Ava Hutchinson (DSD) has the fastest qualifying time (2:35.33), followed by Rathfarnham’s Jennings (2:36.17), DSD’s Byrne (2:36.23) and Letterkenny AC’s McCambridge (2:36.37). But AAI has already stressed that selection will not be based on time alone.

Marathon loses sponsor

ATHLETICS: The Dublin Marathon has lost its title sponsor – the An Post National Lottery – and its television coverage this year. The Lottery came on board last

season, when it brought live TV for the first time in 20 years, and was expected to be involved for two more years. However, the failure to seal a deal has left the October 29 event without a sponsor for the first time since 1992.

Alonso leads at Mugello

Motor racing: Fernando Alonso led the way on a rain-affected first day of Formula One testing at the Mugello circuit in Italy. The Ferrari driver’s best time of one minute 22.444 seconds was enough to put him comfortably clear of the rest of the pack.

NBA – EASTERN CONFERENCE: Atlanta 80 Boston 87 (best-of-seven series tied at 1-1), Chicago 92 Philadelphia 109 (best of seven series tied at 1-1). WESTERN CONFERENCE: LA Lakers 104 Denver 100 (LA Lakers leads best-of-seven series 2-0).