Wednesday 21 February 2018

London 2012: Olympic dream ends for Irish swimmer Grainne Murphy due to illness

Grainne Murphy
Grainne Murphy
Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

WEXFORD swimming star Grainne Murphy has pulled out of the 800m freestyle on Thursday due to her fitness problems, which means her London Olympic dream is over.

As revealed by the Irish Independent this week when Murphy swam so badly in the 400m freestyle, she suffered from glandular fever last March and it has clearly affected her preparations and form.

Swim Ireland have yet to confirm it, but she has now pulled out of the 800m heats on Thursday which is her main speciality.

She had been due to race in four events in London but had already pulled out of two others in order to concentrate all her energy on the 800m but sadly the 19-year-old has now also withdrawn from the long-distance event, indicating just how out of sorts she is.

Great things were expected of the Wexford teenager, who won three European senior medals in 2010, including a 1,500m long course silver when she was just 17.

But on Sunday she finished last in her 400m freestyle heat in a time (4:19.07) that was almost a full 10 seconds slower than her personal best.

It was well known that Murphy's Olympic ambitions had to be suddenly readjusted after an illness this year. The athlete and Irish swimming officials had been vague about it and only ever described it as "a virus".

Swim Ireland's performance director Peter Banks confirmed on Sunday that it was glandular fever, which can dramatically affect energy levels and is something to which highly tuned athletes are particularly susceptible.

Banks insisted they were satisfied that Murphy had recovered full fitness ahead of the London Games, but she was clearly not at her peak.

"She had a virus around March time, it was a glandular thing, yes, glandular fever," he said. "She really didn't miss an awful lot of training, she just tailored it, backed off on the intensity because it was the kind of virus that made her tired.

"She was fit enough, she was training, the markers (fitness) are all right now, everything looked really well but things just didn't work out."

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