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Athletics: Fired-up Fagan prepared to go distance in Houston


Sport really can be a lonely place when you are struggling against loss of form and Irish Olympic marathon runner Martin Fagan experienced that feeling throughout last year.

It came to the stage when he started to have second thoughts about continuing in the sport and it was only his love of running that finally got him through a difficult spell and helped him maintain his commitment to hard work around the roads of Flagstaff, Arizona.

"It came to a stage when I started to have second thoughts about continuing in the sport and considered going back to college to prepare for a different direction," said Fagan (below) yesterday on the eve of tackling another marathon, the big classic in Houston, Texas on Sunday.

"What really puzzled me was this lack of energy in my daily life and this feeling of being tired all the time.

"I also had some niggling injuries, but I was able to get over that with treatment. Then I started to have stomach problems and they got serious.

"It was like that for most of 2010 and it was very frustrating. So, I knew I could not continue that way and decided to get professional help. That was the best move I could have made."

The blood tests showed Fagan to be coeliac, which means his body rejects certain types of food, but particularly gluten, the protein found in cereal grain, like wheat or wheat products.

"That was a shock to me because I had never experienced any problems previously," said the Westmeath runner.

"But since bread is a major part of diet for a distance runner, I had to change my diet immediately and within a couple of weeks I started to feel strong again.

"The last few weeks have been a very encouraging and training has been great and I feel upbeat about Houston."

Initially, Fagan planned to target the Texas event to improve on his lifetime best of 2:14.06, which he ran in Dubai three years ago before dropping out of the Beijing Olympics because of injury.

Now his main target for the marathon on Sunday is to run inside 2:16, which is the qualifying standard for the World Championships next August.

"Houston was a fast race last year and it looks as if the weather will be kind. So, I'm going in there positive and to run a sensible race," he said.

"I need to make the World Championships as it would give me a perfect platform to make the London Olympics next year, which is my big goal at this time."

Among Fagan's opponents on Sunday is last year's course record- breaker, Teshome Gelana of Kenya, who clocked an impressive time of 2:07.37.

Meanwhile, Joe Sweeney, the recent winner of the Inter-Counties Cross-Country Championships, is favourite to claim victory in the Raheny five-mile road race on Sunday.

Irish Independent