DERVAL O'ROURKE, Ireland's best track medal hope for this year's Olympics in London, was forced to fork out €10 last Sunday to use a Dublin track.
O'Rourke launched a new Powerade competition yesterday that offers members of the public a chance to fulfil their own sporting dreams by running 100m in the London Olympic Stadium next month (see page 65).
She may be a European and world indoor and outdoor medallist, but the Leevale star was made to pay to use the track at ALSAA, the Aer Lingus' sports and social club near Dublin Airport.
O'Rourke usually trains at Morton Stadium in Santry, but it was closed, and, having just arrived home from a few days' holiday after the World Indoors, she went to ALSAA to fit in a session.
She was quickly approached by an employee, who told her she couldn't train there because she wasn't a club member, and she eventually had to fork out €10 to use the track's facilities.
The 2006 World Indoor champion and two-time European silver medallist at 100m hurdles saw the funny side of it, but admits her experience is common among Ireland's top track athletes.
"It probably happens (to) us all about six times a year," she said. "You'll stumble upon a track and they'll try to kick you off it, but generally I only go kicking and screaming.
"It was three in the afternoon, there was just me and one jogger there.
"In their (ALSAA's) defence, maybe they get people who sneak on all the time. It was probably a security thing where people come on and destroy the place, but I wasn't going to set fire to anything," she quipped. "In Ireland it's probably an insurance thing, but I just wish there was a situation that every track here was a public park where everyone could run there all the time, like we experience in Spain and France."