STILL feeling the effects of a fall in Germany last week, Derval O’Rourke was left wondering if she’s ever going to win a race at Cork City Sports as she finished third after battling through the gale force winds that howled around the CIT Athletics Stadium on Saturday.
She has raced across the world, winning a gold medal at the world indoor championships, silver at the European outdoor championships and bronze at the European indoors as well as the World Student Games but, in 10 years of trying, she has never won before her home fans.
On Saturday she stepped into a field that included the eventual race winner, Priscilla Lopes-Schliep, a Canadian who won the bronze medal at the Beijing Olympics and silver at last year’s world championships in Berlin when O’Rourke was fourth and Kellie Wells from the US who was runner-up in the American championships a week earlier.
The times, 13.21, 13.32 and 13.40 were irrelevant on a count of a headwind of -4.5 but two other rated Americans, Nicole Denby and April Garner, were behind her to underscore the significance of the performance.
Her coach Sean Cahill, who represented Ireland up to European championship level in the 110m hurdles, made no secret of his annoyance at how she was forced to face a “loaded” field once again in her home town.
“For me it’s frustrating and I can only imagine how Derval must feel,” he said. “She was in the wrong frame of mind after what happened in Germany. But she was always going to run in Cork come hell or high water.
“Then she discovered the quality of the field on Wednesday when she was in Thessalonkia and that did not help. It just seems the other events here are not as strong as the hurdles.”
He said the meeting came at the wrong time in regard to the European Championships because if she was to peak to win she could not peak again for Barcelona in three weeks time.
“But she gave it absolutely everything she had out there today and we can’t ask for anything more than that. She is a very capable lady,” he said.
Derval commented: “It’s all about getting the confidence back. There has to be an element of ‘pick myself back up’ after last week. I don’t think I ever fell before. I feel perfect now. I feel like I’m ready to run quick again. I don’t feel so scared.
“Today I was standing at the line, 58 kgs, blown around by the gale, and I felt so negative and Sean said just snap out of it and kind of gave out to me at the start and that helped.
“I’d like to have won the race. It’s a bit frustrating. What I find is that there is no balance in all the events. I think my event is really world class and then some of the other events are much lower standard. I probably would have had a much better chance of winning the 100m. It seems to be a bit of an odd decision to stack the hurdles so much. At this point in my season it’s good for me but it’s funny that I’ve never won in Cork.”
“I’ll go to Barcelona on Friday. There is a meet on the same track as the Europeans so I am going to go there. I like to go to the stadium before the event. Last year I did the Golden League in Berlin before the (world) championships, see what the call room is, have a look at the track, run on it and then I’ll fly in two days before the Europeans. I’ll fly back to Dublin on Saturday and run the nationals on Sunday.”
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