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Olympic marathon race turns into sprint

It doesn't take long for good news to turn bad. The Olympics are only a few months away and already Ireland has reached its quota of qualifiers for the women's marathon.

Linda Byrne got there first by running 2:36.37 at the Dublin marathon, Ava Hutchinson followed at the Houston marathon in January and just last weekend Maria McCambridge hit the mark in Rome.

Now, although Ireland have three qualifiers meeting the time requirements, this doesn't mean that the rest of the country's marathon runners are not going to bother trying to get the 'A' standard of two hours 37 minutes.

The Rotterdam marathon takes place on April 15 and Ireland is expected to be strongly represented. Lizzie Lee, Lorraine Manning, Catriona Jennings and Breege Connolly are all expected to line out. The London marathon is a week after Rotterdam and Gladys Ganiel is expected to try for the time then.

If one or all succeed, then Athletics Ireland will be in a pickle because its selection criteria are far from crystal clear.

What is clear is that only three athletes can go to London and if tough decisions have to be made, AI says it will look at a number of factors, although it seems a lot of weight will be given to 'final phase readiness'. This looks like athletes who run the time again between now and the cut-off of June 12 will be in pole position. A case of first come not necessarily first served.

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THE possibility has emerged of a match to be played in Croke Park between Dublin and Melbourne to honour the memory of Jim Stynes.

Melbourne chief executive Cameron Schwab said the AFL's oldest club wanted to strengthen its ties with Ireland, with the tribute game among the considerations. "It is definitely a vision we would love to see and I think that everyone would understand the significance of it," Schwab said. "Ireland forms a unique chapter in our club's heritage, but also in the history of the game. We think a day where Melbourne could play Dublin at Croke Park would be a dream, and there just might be a return game at the MCG, too."

While no timeframe has been placed on the grand vision, one of the most appropriate opportunities could come after the 2014 AFL season, which would coincide with the 30th anniversary of Stynes arriving in Melbourne to chase his football dream.

It would also be an opportunity to remember Kerry's Sean Wight, who went to Melbourne from Kerry in 1985 and played 150 games for the Demons. Wight died of lung cancer, aged 47, last June.

Perhaps it would be fitting for the match to feature a combined Dublin-Kerry team? Now that would be something worth seeing.

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everyone will be cash-strapped for the foreseeable future and athletics funding is particularly hard hit, but still we hope that Irish athletes won't consider taking a leaf out of Logan Campbell's book by operating a brothel to help fund their Olympic campaign.

Campbell, who will represent New Zealand in the taekwondo under-68kg division in London, made headlines across the globe in 2009 after revealing his plans to open a brothel in Auckland.

"I started the gentleman's club up so I could get the money to prepare for London," he said. "At the time, taekwondo wasn't getting any funding and we were having to do it all off our own back." Or by someone else being on their back to be more precise.

Thankfully, the move was roundly criticised by both the New Zealand Olympic Committee and his own sport's governing body and a year later, he opted out of the business.

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Journalists covering the Euro 2012 football finals in Poland and Ukraine will have to fork out for their own train tickets as the free inter-city rail travel concession provided by Austria and Switzerland four years ago will not be repeated.

UEFA officials had discussed with local organisers the possibility of matching the provision available in both the last major European football tournaments. Media benefited from free inter-city rail travel not only at Euro 2008 but also during the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

Marie Crowe and Fergus McDonnell


Sunday Indo Sport