Olympic dream revived as Fagan to meet US embassy officials

MARTIN FAGAN’S participation in next month’s Houston Marathon will depend on the outcome of a meeting today with officials at the US embassy in Ballsbridge.

Irish team manager Patsy McGonagle last night praised the officials at the embassy for agreeing to meet with the Mullingar man and said they were now hopeful that he would be able to return to the US as early as next week.

“We have to thank the officials for arranging the meeting at such short notice because, from our point of view, time was of the very essence.

“Already Martin (Fagan) has lost out on some valuable training — firstly by coming back to represent his country in the European cross-country championships and then with the problem of having to return to Ireland. It has all been very stressful for him but we are hopeful that a satisfactory resolution is in sight and that he will be back with his coach in Arizona next week.”

Fagan was refused re-entry to the US at Philadelphia Airport on his return from the European championships in which he finished seventh — the highest placing ever by an Irishman in the senior men’s race.

He eventually had to return to Ireland via London leaving behind him all his possessions and also his hopes of achieving the qualifying standard for next year’s Olympic Games at the Houston Marathon.

Two days ago he was rearranging his schedule - if not his career - in consultation with his coach Greg McMillan and his agent Ray Flynn.

He was about to scrap plans for some early season track races in the US and redirect his Olympic qualification ambitions to the London Marathon when the news of today’s meeting came through.

Since leaving Providence College he has been based at Flagstaff, Arizona where he is a member of McMillan’s elite group. His preparations for a marathon debut were given an instant boost when he ran 63 minutes for the half marathon in Boston and his current wellbeing was underscored when he returned to Rhode Island to finish second in the Manchester Road Race and then his seventh placing in the European cross-country championships. “I feel I could achieve the qualifying standard for the Olympic Marathon (2:15) tomorrow,” he said. “I’m just looking forward to getting back into full training.”

Meanwhile, Katerina Thanou will consider suing the IOC if it refuses to award her Marion Jones’ 100 metres gold medal from the Sydney Olympics.

Jones has been stripped of her five medals from 2000.

But the IOC is yet to decide how to reallocate them.

Greek sprinter Thanou, who finished second in the 100m, “believes she has to be awarded the gold”, according to her lawyer.

However, the IOC has delayed a decision on how to reallocate the prizes, because it wants to find out if more of the athletes from the races were involved in the Balco laboratories doping scandal.

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