Monday 24 June 2019

Diver in seventh heaven after PB seals her path to Olympics

Born and raised in Belmullet, Diver (p) moved to Melbourne in 2002 after finishing college in UL. Photo: Ian Walton for Virgin Money London Marathon
Born and raised in Belmullet, Diver (p) moved to Melbourne in 2002 after finishing college in UL. Photo: Ian Walton for Virgin Money London Marathon

Cathal Dennehy

For 13 miles she was in dreamland and by the time she reached the finish in seventh place in yesterday's London Marathon, Mayo's Sinéad Diver had woken up to the idea of calling herself an Olympian.

The 42-year-old produced the performance of her life to carve more than a minute off her best, clocking 2:24:11 and securing qualification for Tokyo 2020, with the one kicker for fans of Irish athletics being that she now runs for Australia.

Born and raised in Belmullet, Diver moved to Melbourne in 2002 after finishing college in UL. She took up running in 2010 at the age of 33 following the birth of her second child and, when she clocked 2:34:15 for the marathon in 2014, she looked set to represent Ireland at the World Championships.

However, Athletics Ireland soon moved the goalposts, changing the time required to 2:33:30.

As a dual citizen, Diver knew the only way to compete would be in an Australian vest, a decision that proved virtually irreversible given the IAAF now mandates a three-year wait before transferring allegiance.

In yesterday's race she ran without fear, surging ahead of the elite field and reaching halfway all alone out front in 1:11:22.

"That was really good fun, I didn't want to look behind, but I was wondering where everybody was," she said.

Mick Clohisey was the leading Irish finisher in the men's race, the Raheny athlete finishing 25th in 2:15:06. Clohisey started ambitiously, passing halfway in 1:06:34, but running alone in high winds through the second half took its toll.

"I ended up in no-man's land for the first half and used a lot more energy," he said. "I'd have liked to crank down more, but I have to take that today. It's still solid."

Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge again proved a class apart, becoming the first man ever to win four titles and clocking the second fastest time in history, 2:02:37. Kenya's Brigid Kosgei won the women's race in 2:18:20. Britain's Mo Farah finished fifth in the men's race in 2:05:39.

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