Friday 15 December 2017

Fagan calls it a day and passes up ticket to Rio

Martin Fagan has called time on his career
Martin Fagan has called time on his career

Lindie Naughton

Martin Fagan, currently Ireland's sole qualifier for the Rio Olympics men's marathon, has called time on his career.

The Mullingar athlete, who turns 32 on Friday, had received a mixed reception from the athletics community after returning from a two-year doping ban last year.

Fagan tested positive for EPO in December 2011 when based in the USA and battling a long downward cycle of injury and illness.

He immediately admitted that he had bought EPO on the internet and administered it himself. EPO allows athletes to train harder and recover faster.

Fagan earned his ticket to Rio by clocking 2:16.09 in the Zurich marathon last month - well inside the Olympic qualification mark of 2 hours 17 minutes. But he has now made the decision to quit competitive sport, saying that he is "happier not running right now".

Speaking to the Westmeath Independent, Fagan said that his decision was based on the difficulty of juggling a full-time job with the training needed to reach the highest level of the sport.

"Working 50 hours a week, it just wasn't happening. If I was going to go, I would like to give myself a good shot of competing but, working the way I am, I couldn't do that."

A run in a local 5km league in Mullingar finally made up his mind for him. "With work, it just took away from the enjoyment. It's hard to explain but I just lost the love for it."

Fagan's career began with huge promise. He finished fourth in the 10,000m at the European U-23 Championships in Germany, and fifth in the 5,000m. A year later, he was 11th in the 10,000m at the European Championships in Gothenburg.

He moved up to the marathon and, after he ran 2:14.06 in Dubai in January 2008, was picked for the Beijing Olympics only for injury to rule him out.

His finest moment came in March 2009 when he set an Irish best of 60.57 for the half-marathon in The Hague, breaking John Treacy's record.

It was enough only for fifth place in the race.

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