Derval O'Rourke: 'I had to pay €10 to train on Dublin track'
SHE is a world and European medallist and Ireland's best track medal hope for the Olympics in four months' time, yet someone tried to throw Derval O'Rourke off an Irish track last weekend... for training.
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.
But O'Rourke (pictured left) was forced to fork out €10 herself last Sunday just to use one Dublin track. The bizarre incident took place at ALSAA, 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' holidays 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 facility.
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 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 and stuff, but I definitely wasn't going to set fire to anything," she quipped.
"I think 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."
"Initially he said I just couldn't run at all, and then I tried to persuade him that I'm kind of into the running," O'Rourke explained dryly.
"I tried to tell him about the Olympics, but he told me he didn't care. In the end he brought his manager out, and he also told me I wasn't a member so I had to pay a tenner."
The Leevale star is now firmly focused on London 2012 after putting aside her recent disappointment at failing to make the final at the World Indoors.
A foot injury had curtailed her racing beforehand but she still felt she was in good enough shape.
"It was a missed opportunity to win a medal and, to me, that's all that matters, but I still think it was a good thing for me to go there and run it," she said.
O'Rourke revealed that her preparations for London will now include some flat 100/200m races in May, and she is also seriously contemplating running in the European Championships in Helsinki in late June.
"You'd go there to win a medal -- I have medals from the last two (Europeans)," she said. "But also, I had such a short indoor campaign this year and the schedule replicates the Olympic programme so that makes it a big incentive."
- Powerade are running regional 100m fun events on April 14 (Sligo IT and Antrim Forum) and April 21 (Santry and Cork IT). All participants will then go into a draw for four places to run on the London Olympic track on May 3. See Powerade.ie/OnYourMarks