Saturday 23 March 2019

Athletics: Fagan hoping to leave visa debacle behind

Martin Fagan at the launch of the Great Ireland Run at the Phoenix Park Visitor Centre
Martin Fagan at the launch of the Great Ireland Run at the Phoenix Park Visitor Centre

Cliona Foley

ATHLETICS' so-called 'Bladerunner' had his Olympic hopes dashed yesterday but Irish hopeful Martin Fagan, who has suffered his own bizarre Olympic set-back in recent weeks, is hoping for a more positive outcome on Friday.

The IAAF finally decided that, after a battery of tests, the steel 'cheetah' prosthetics used by South African 400m Paralympian Oscar Pistorius gives him an advantage over able-bodied runners (about 25pc less energy expenditure), thereby ending his dream of both Olympic/Paralympic participation in Beijing.

Mullingar distance runner Fagan (24), suffered an unusual obstacle himself last month when refused re-entry to America after he was Ireland's joint highest senior finisher at the European Cross-Countries in Spain.

The Providence College graduate had moved from Connecticut to Arizona this winter hoping to make his marathon debut and get the Olympic qualifying time (2:15) in Houston last Sunday. However, US emigration put paid to that and Fagan had to pay for his own flights home to avoid having to spend two days in a holding cell!

He is now making his marathon debut in Dubai on Friday, a decision that has been queried considering his age, inexperience and the fact that a blistering pace will be set by Haile Gebrselassie who is chasing a new sub 2:04 world record.

But Fagan (24), taking time out to launch the Great Ireland Run (10km) in the Phoenix Park yesterday, believes he can still do it.

"I've always had it in my mind that I would do the marathon, I've never been happy doing track races and always wanted to be on the road," he revealed. "For me running a marathon has always been much more exciting than running a sub-4-minute mile.

Unlike Houston (won in 2:12.31), where one of his US training partners was prepared to set the pace for him, Fagan will be very much on his own in Dubai but he has been boosted by his American trainer coming over to join him at an AAI training camp in Portugal for the past fortnight.

Fagan still hopes to get his visa sorted out to return to train in America, but he will definitely run in the Great Ireland Run on April 6 which is now taking entries (

Elsewhere, the first big schools' cross-country of the year, the annual DCU Schools Invitational, takes place in St Clare's tomorrow. Inaugural primary school races start at 10.30am with the secondary students racing from noon.

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