Colin Griffin achieved the 50k standard for the Olympic Games at the IAAF World Cup of Race Walking in Saransk, Russia over the weekend.
And there were good displays also from Olive Loughnane who produced her best performance since claiming silver at the world championships in Berlin in 2009 while Robert Heffernan underscored his consistency over 20k.
However, there was disappointment for Jamie Costin and Michael Doyle who were forced to retire from the 50km race as temperature hit 30 degrees.
Griffin eased the heartache of previous qualification attempts when he moved through the star-studded 50k field to finish 15th in 3:53:55 which was well inside the 3:50 Olympic A standard and he will now join Heffernan and Brendan Boyce on the line in London.
His achievement brings the total number of qualified athletes to 18 — the highest figure to achieve the A standard in advance of an Olympic Games.
It’s onwards and upwards for Loughnane who targeted a top eight position in advance of yesterday’s race and achieved it with some style.
It was a sparkling performance from the Cork-based athlete who eased her way through the field to finish in 1:31:32.
The race provided a shock result as the Olympic, world and European Champion, Olga Kaniskina, could only watch as another Russian, Elena Lashmanova, streaked away to win in 1:27:38. Kaniskina was second in 1:28:33 with Maria Jose Poves (Spain) third in 1:29:10.
Laura Reynolds was on the target for the Olympic standard for three quarters of the race before she faded in the closing stages to finish 35th in 1:37:06 but she will get another shot at qualification when she lines up alongside Loughnane again in La Coruna next month.
Heffernan continued his Olympic build-up with another impressive performance in the 20k walk on Saturday when he finished 12th in 1:21:51.
In March he posted the third fastest time of his career for 20k at 1:20:39 for sixth in Laguna before finishing fourth place in the IAAF Race Walking Challenge in Rio Maior in 1:21:28.
Boyce, who has been inside the Olympic qualification standard for the 50k on two occasions, finished 65th in the 20k on Saturday in 1:27.
The race produced the first shock of the weekend as Olympic and world champion, Valeriy Borchin, finished 10th in 1:21:29 with the gold medal going to Zhen Wang (China) in 1:19:13 ahead of two Russians, Andrey Krivov, 1:19:27, and Vladimir Kanaykin, 1:19:43.
World Youth champion Kate Veale finished sixth in the Junior 10k in 46:53 with Emma Prendeville 45th while Luke Hickey was 54th and James Treanor was 59th in the Junior Men’s 10k.
“It was all extremely positive as we move closer to the London Games,” Olympic team manager, Patsy McGonagle, said.
“Colin (Griffin) found himself on two red cards after just 10k but coped very well.”
Meanwhile, Mairead Murphy set an Irish senior record in the Heptathlon when she was fourth in the Big 12 conference in Kansas with 5,399 points — adding five points to the previous record held by Sharon Foley.
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