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Dublin: 14°C Sunday 20 September 2020

Ireland's Fionnuala McCormack finishes in 20th place in Olympic marathon

A PB run from the Wicklow woman.

Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Sinéad O’Carroll reports from Rio de Janeiro

Updated 5.48pm

FIONNUALA MCCORMACK CROSSED the finish line at Rio de Janeiro’s Sambodrombo in an impressive 20th place in today’s Olympic marathon.

With the sun shining and temperatures reaching a gruelling 27 degrees Celsius, the 31-year-old three-time Olympian put in a personal best of 2:31:22.

Kenya’s Jemima Jelagat Sumgong took the win in a time of 2:24:04.

It was a good day for Team Ireland with Lizzie Lee taking 57th place in 2:39:57, achieving her aim of a top 60 place and a sub 2:40 run, and Breege Connolly coming in 76th with a time of 2:44:41.

Still digesting the result in the athletes’ area, McCormack told The42 that she was unsure of how she was feeling.

“I think it was positive. I’m not really sure what to make of the whole thing because it’s only my third one (marathon),” she said.

I haven’t seen who was in front of me and who was behind me. A lot of the time you base races off who you think you should beat. Twenty seconds off a PB in a marathon isn’t major but a PB is going in the right direction.

However, she noted that she had stuck to her plan which had paid off.

“It would have been nice to catch the Japanese girl at the end but, yeah, I think everyone knew you had to be a bit conservative at the start today,” she explained, referring to the heat.

“Then it’s the Olympics so there are always people who will go off. I thought there would be a lot of people coming back and there’s going to be carnage at some point. And you always hope it might be more than what it is.”

The hot conditions didn’t bother McCormack with the Wicklow woman revealing she wasn’t afraid of how they might impact her.

Experience in Mombasa and other tough-but-good races in heat over the years have instilled the necessary confidence.

Some of it is psychological… I wasn’t afraid that the heat was going to affect me. Obviously, you can’t just disregard it and tear off at whatever pace. But if you take it into account, but it’s not something I’m afraid of. Probably, the tougher the better.

“But 20th after where I started is probably OK. I think it was better than my other two Olympics. I’ll have to come back again now.”

Will that be for another marathon or back on the track at 10,000m?

(McCormack opted out of the 10,000m in this Olympics despite qualifying as the endurance events were only days apart).

“It was definitely too close to do them both – definitely to do them both justice,” she explained.

“I think, yeah like maybe, I could have ran well in the 10,000. I don’t know if I would have wanted to be in it anyway,” she laughs.

The athlete went to the track to watch Almaz Ayana obliterate a world record – which had been held for 23 years – by 14 seconds.

“[I] suppose, you can’t be too negative about things and I don’t really know what to make of it,” she said of Friday’s race.

“And I guess everybody is in the same boat at this stage. It was still a good race to watch though – and I was glad I went out to see it, to see all the other subplots. It was a big race with a big field, which I think is the positive out of it.

“Even with all the scandals and everything going on, the fact that there is 35 or 36 people in the race means that everybody hasn’t given up on the sport altogether. Take the positives and look at it from that point of view.”

For now, no decisions are being made.

“I enjoyed the 10k on the track at the Europeans. Obviously, it would have been nice to get a medal but it was good to be running close to my best. I think I could probably go quicker if I focused on it. I love cross country. It’s nice to have the three.”

The only plan for now is to give some care and love to the blistered feet and spend nine free days in Rio, soaking in her third Olympic Games.

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