Pollock in Struggle to Make RIO Selection

18 April 2016

Ireland's top long distance international Paul Pollock has dramatically pulled out of this weekend's London Marathon thereby placing a question mark on his selection on the 3 man Irish Marathon squad for this summer's Rio Olympics.

The 29 year old doctor from Holywood picked up a foot injury just after his outstanding 14th place in the World Half Marathon in Cardiff 3 weeks ago where he was the second European finisher in a classy time of 62 mins 46 secs.  However London would have been a key test for the Annadale man who is presently only ranked 4th in the Irish list behind Kevin Seaward of St Malachy's, Mick Clohisey of Raheny and Clonliffe's Sergiu Ciobanu.

The seriousness of Pollock's injury is not immediately clear.  He briefly commented;

"I am gutted not to get out of my block of training for the London Marathon." 

Pollock's best time of 2 hours 15 minutes 38 secs is only some 24 secs slower than 3rd ranked Ciobanu. If fully fit he would have been confident of beating Ciobanu's time in London but he must now rely on the selectors to give him the nod for the final Irish place. Clearly Pollock must also satisfy them that he has recovered from his injury. The selection is due to be made on 23rd May.  

While all this is a bit of a tall order Paul can take some comfort from the fact that in Cardiff he beat Ciobanu by a huge margin of nearly 4 minutes. It certainly would be a bitter disappointment for him if he does not make the Rio team especially as he has already proved himself on the World stage. Pollock was 2nd European finisher in the 2013 World Championships in Moscow where he competed in temperatures over 30 degrees to finish 21st out of 80 competitors. 

 The good news is that it is increasingly likely that former Belfast runner Seaward who now lives in Cardiff will get the nod for Rio as the fastest Irishman with a time of 2hrs 14 mins 52 secs.   His St Malachy's team mate Thomas Frazer who is racing in London will be adopting a "do or die" stance in a bid to improve his PB by over 2 minutes to gain selection. Also racing is Belfast's Stephen Scullion who has a PB of 2 hours 34 minutes.

There is also intense Northern interest in the Women's selection for Rio where North Belfast's Breege Connolly is currently ranked 3rd in Ireland behind Cork's Lizzie Lee and Fionnuala McCormack.

Breege who will be racing in the Queen's Road Race tomorrow (Wednesday ) has decided   not to race in London and will  rely on her time of 2.37.29 from London  last year as sufficient to gain Rio selection.  Her chances would be enhanced further if McCormack decides to race over 10,000 metres in Rio rather than the Marathon.

Given that scenario Connolly's club team mate Gladys Ganiel could also come into consideration.  The Commonwealth Games athlete is presently ranked 4th with a PB time of 2.38.53 from Seville back in February.