Tuesday 12 December 2017

Athletics: Galligan slams AAI on return from illness lay-off

Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

Irish international Roseanne Galligan finally returned to the track last weekend after a lengthy illness lay-off -- but says it was no thanks to Athletics Ireland (AAI).

The Newbridge athlete, a former European junior finalist, who ran the fourth fastest 800m by an Irishwoman in 2010 when clocking 2:01.76 at the European senior championships, barely competed last summer due to a blood poisoning problem that proved difficult to resolve.

She initially received medical support through AAI and the Irish Institute of Sport, but has been self-supported this year since losing her grant ('carding') and only a blood test that she paid for herself in England finally sorted out her problems.

The British-based middle-distance runner says she was "extremely disappointed" with AAI's response to her difficulties.

Galligan is living in Cheltenham, supporting herself through substitute teaching, the hours for which vary from week to week.

"I fully understand I lost my carding because I didn't meet the criteria," she said. "But no one from the AAI or the Sports Council ever contacted me to ask why I was not performing.

"I sent five emails to Kevin Ankrom (AAI's High Performance director) and he has not replied to any of them. The only one from the AAI who has offered me any support is Anne Keenan-Buckley."

Ankrom said yesterday that he did not reply to her personally because he had delegated her case to Keenan-Buckley.

"I am well aware of Roseanne's situation and I handed it on to Anne Keenan-Buckley because she is our 'endurance' lead," he said. "We have an elite programme of 80 athletes and I simply cannot deal with everyone personally.

"Anne has been in contact with Roseanne and I am confident we are doing what we can for her, even though she is outside the carding scheme."

He said Galligan was supported medically "until all of her credits were used up" and said she has recently been offered €2,500 support through AAI's endurance programme.

The source of the 24-year-old's problems was certainly unusual.

"I came back from altitude training last year, ran 2:04 in my first race but felt very tired and then ran 2:12," she explained.

"Eventually it was diagnosed that I had low-level blood poisoning related to my wisdom teeth. I got them all out one day last November and looked like a chipmunk for the next fortnight."

Galligan only resumed running before Christmas and is now playing catch-up in her bid to get up to speed, with the upcoming European Championships still a realistic target.

She ran 2:05.72 last weekend in her first race in 10 months and is one of a large group of Irish athletes competing in Oordegem (Belgium) tomorrow -- the group includes Paul Hession, Steven Colvert, Mark English and Thomas and Jessie Barr.

DSD's women (including Deirdre Ryan and Linda Byrne) and Clonliffe's men are also abroad this weekend, competing in the European Champion Clubs' Championships in Vila Real St Antonio (Portugal) and Dubnica (Slovakia) respectively.

Elsewhere, all of Limerick's Olympians since 1924, apart from the deceased John O'Grady (1924, shot-putt) and Denis John Cussen (1928, 100m), will be honoured by a special celebration in the city tomorrow night; O'Grady and Cussen's awards will be received on their behalf by Bernie Hartigan and John Cussen.

Irish Independent

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