Olympic heartbreak as McCambridge misses out on marathon place

Caitriona Jennings, Linda Byrne and Ava Hutchinson will represent Ireland in the women’s marathon at London 2012.

Maria McCambridge (file photo).
Maria McCambridge (file photo).
Image: ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

MARIA MCCAMBRIDGE SUFFERED Olympic heartbreak this morning after she was left out of the women’s marathon team for London 2012.

With four athletes inside the “A” standard qualifying time but only three places available to Ireland in the race, the Letterkenny AC runner was the unlucky one to miss out.

Rathfarnham’s Caitriona Jennings will join the Dundrum South Dublin pair of Linda Byrne and Ava Hutchinson at the start line in London, the first time that Ireland has sent three women to the event.

McCambridge, 36, broke the 2:37:00 “A” standard at the Rome Marathon in March where she finished ninth in a time of 2:36:37.

Her time was the slowest of the four qualifiers behind Hutchinson (2:35:33), Jennings (2:36:14) and Byrne (2:36:31), but Athletics Ireland stressed that the decision would not be made on time alone.

The selection policy for London 2012 outlines five criteria used to select the squad in such circumstances — consistency and repeatability of performances in 2011/12; relevant statistical data/rankings; athletes “on-demand” performances at previous championships; competitive record of athletes against one another; and athletes “final phase” readiness.

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The decision was taken by the Athletics Ireland Selection committee this morning. After the normal right of appeal as set out in the body’s nominations policy, nominations will be forwarded to the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) for ratification.

It is not the first time that McCambridge has found herself at the centre of a qualifying controversy. At Athens 2004, she was initially denied a place in the Irish squad for the 5,000m after she missed out on the very early qualifying deadline, only for the OCI to eventually relent and include her.

Athletics Ireland also ratified the three-man team of Rob Heffernan, Brendan Boyce and Colin Griffin for the 50km walk this morning, as well as Mark Kenneally in the men’s marathon.

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