ALISTAIR CRAGG HAS praised the support Irish athletes receive at the Olympics but admits they must detach themselves from lofty expectations.
Despite Cian O’Connor’s bronze medal win in equestrian yesterday and the guarantee of three more from the boxers, Ireland are well behind countries with similar populations like New Zealand and Denmark.
Cragg, who failed to qualify for a third Olympic 5,000m final in a row yesterday, told The Score that what supporters are hoping for and an athlete’s own aspirations are two different things.
“When Sonia (O’Sullivan) or Kenny Egan or the boxers gets medals it’s taken to heart and really raises the spirit of the country,” the South African-born runner said.
“It’s great that people have these expectations but as an athlete you’ve got to separate yourself from them and think about reality. Like ‘what have I done year in, year out and where am I?’.
People don’t see that. Yes, we do want to get medals. I felt that if I could prove what I can do out there I could roll the dice in the final and see what happens. My apologies to Ireland, it’s my fault.”
Fellow track competitors Ciaran O’Lionaird and Fionnuala Britton were also unable to progress to their respective finals in London but Cragg was quick to defend his team-mates.
“You’ve got to give Ciaran credit,” he added. ”The guy has gone through a tough year and he’s a very positive and driven guy.
“Fionnuala is one of the best cross country runners in the world. She’s the person who should be our rock on the team right now.”