Local athlete impresses on world stage, by Fiedhlim Kelly:
Paul Pollock produced a mature performance to finish 21st and second fastest European in a new personal best of 2:16:42 in the marathon at the World Track and Field Championship in Moscow on Saturday.
In truth, the Irish athletics team performed below par overall, apart from Robert Heffernan’s gold and personal best performances for Brendan Boyce finishing 25th in the 50km race walk in 3:54:24, coached by Robert Heffernan, and Pollock’s stellar display (2:16:42) in the marathon won by Olympic champion Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda in 2:09:51.
Pollock, who has worked 80 hour plus weeks this year as a junior doctor, is going to focus solely on athletics in the build-up to the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
“I’m putting the medicine on hold until Rio,” said Pollock, whose brother Noel is the head doctor for UK athletics. “I’ll do some part-time work only.
“It was a very hard race, but I definitely think there’s a lot more there, running in temperatures of 30 degrees can add a couple of minutes to your time.
“I was pouring water over myself all the way, but I coped okay with the conditions. My coach (Andy Hobdell) and I thought we could be top 10 coming in, but that was unrealistic looking at all the Africans up front — 21st and second European though, I have to be happy. It’s a step in the right direction.”
France’s Teddy Tamgho hopped, stepped and jumped to an impressive 18.04m in the men’s triple jump in the final day of competition yesterday. The men’s 1500m, historically the blue riband event alongside the 100m, saw Asbel Kiprop of Kenya win as expected in 3:36.28 ahead of USA’s Matthew Centrowitz (3:36.78) and surprise bronze medallist Johan Cronje (3:36.83) of South Africa.
There was an unexpected win in the women’s 800m when Kenya’s Eunice Jepkoech Sum usurped Russia’s favourite and defending champion Mariya Savinova in 1:57.38. Savinova had to settle for silver in 1:57.80 with USA’s Brenda Martinez running a personal best for third in 1:57.91. The Moscovites attention was never truly captured during the Championships except surprisingly for the race walking where it has a strong tradition in Russia — making Heffernan’s victory all the more impressive. Usain Bolt (100m and 200m) and Mo Farah (5,000m and 10,000m) both duly delivered on the double but Yelena Isinbayeva’s third world pole vault title lost some love by her controversial statement on homosexuality.