Athletics: McCambridge 'gutted' after missing out on Olympic berth
MARIA McCambridge was devastated yesterday after failing to make the cut for the Olympic marathon.
The Letterkenny-based 36-year-old, was one of four Irish women who had achieved the 'A' standard (2hrs 37 mins).
But with only three women's marathon places per nation, it was McCambridge -- who ran in Athens in '04 -- who missed out.
"I am gutted," said McCambridge, after receiving the bad news in a phone call from Athletic Ireland's director of high performance Kevin Ankrom.
"Obviously I wish all the other girls the best, but I'm still sort of numb and it's going to take some time for me to process this."
Athletics Ireland set out a range of selection criteria, including "consistency and repeatability of performance", an athlete's event history and their competitive record against each other.
But McCambridge said she felt the selectors went mainly "on (time) rankings", and her 2:36.37 was the slowest.
DSD's British-based Ava Hutchinson (29) had the fastest qualifying time (2:35.33), followed by Rathfarnham's Letterkenny native Caitriona Jennings (31), who had run 2:36.17, and 26-year-old Linda Byrne (2:36.23), but only a minute separated the four of them.
McCambridge was the most experienced of the quartet, and the three who have been selected will all be making their Olympic debuts.
When the selection dilemma emerged, McCambridge spoke about trying to qualify for the pre-Olympic European Championships if she missed out -- she ran the 10,000m 'B' standard when clocking 33:22 in a mixed race in Irishtown last week.
But she was too upset yesterday to contemplate switching to the track, saying: "My heart is just with the marathon, it is hard to think of anything else right now."
Athletics Ireland came in for some criticism for using the national marathon (run along with the Dublin Marathon last autumn) as an automatic selection race, with Byrne beating all the other contenders in that race.
The one concession the selectors made was to bring forward the selection date (originally June 12) once the last potential contender, Raheny's Barbara Sanchez, missed her chance to make it at the Copenhagen Marathon.
Just one male athlete -- Clonliffe's Mark Kenneally -- achieved the men's marathon standard, while in the 50km men's walk, Robert Heffernan (Togher AC), Brendan Boyce (Letterkenny AC) and Colin Griffin (Ballinamore AC) were also nominated to the Olympic Council yesterday.
The seven nominations were just for distance 'road' events. Irish track and field athletes have until July 8 to achieve qualification -- 10 have already made it.