Hartmann hoping Paula’s gamble won’t backfire

GERARD HARTMANN will anxiously watch tonight’s final of the women’s 10,000m at a Sports Bar in Limerick along with the double Olympic champion, Kelly Holmes.

The cause of his anxiety is Paula Radcliffe’s participation in the event.

“She is taking a huge risk,” the renowned physiotherapist admitted from his Treaty City base where he is treating Holmes for an Achilles injury. “She can win the marathon by two minutes if she stays in the shape she is in right now. But a niggle here or a tweak there would cause concern.”

Radcliffe, who spent time with Hartmann prior to her arrival in Helsinki, goes into this evening’s 10,000m chasing the elusive track medal.

She aims to beat her personal best time of 30:01.09 set in a torrential downpour at the European championships in Munich three years ago - the second fastest time recorded for the distance.

Radcliffe has raced very little on the track since the Flora London Marathon in April and when she did she was far from impressive, with 8:50.18 for 3,000m and 15:27.67 for 5,000m at the European Cup.

She may have buried the ghosts of Athens when she went to the New York Marathon last October, but that experience exposed her to something she had never experienced before.

A fast time this evening will suit much of the field. The Olympic champion, Xing Huina (China) is amongst the competitors along with the former world cross-country champion, Benita Johnson from Australia, while the Russian trio of Galina Bogomolova, Alla Zhilyaeva and Alyena Samokhvalova are competitive. Ireland will be represented by Marie Davenport (nee McMahon) from Clare. Two years ago she arrived in Paris with a temperature of 104 and watched the championships from her sick bed. She bounced back last year to finish 14th in the Olympics - travelling to Athens with personal best performances from 1,500m to 10,000m (31:28.78) behind her.

She ran her best 10,000m in Stanford and this year she won the 5,000m there, was second in a 5k in Johnston, third in the Albany 5k, 11th in the big New York 10k and won the Branford five miler.

She is one of four athletes here who are coached by Ray Treacy in Rhode Island. The former Leevale man, head coach at Providence College, also has Amy Rudolph, who will take over as his assistant at Providence later in the year, Kim Smith from New Zealand and another Irish athlete, Roisin McGettigan.

The latter will make history today when she lines up for the 3,000m steeplechase, becoming the first Irish woman to compete in this event at a major championships.

She beat a strong field to win the event at the European Cup in June but the Wicklow woman has been impressive over a range of events.

She has a personal best of 4:10.44 for 1,500m, was fourth a number of times in the NCAA indoor mile, finished third in the NCAA steeplechase last year and has won three conference titles in that event.

She competes in the first heat this morning, avoiding the hot favourite, Dorcus Inzikuru from Uganda.

“She is in very good form and was just saying today that she has competed against and beaten some of the competitors in her heat,” AAI’s performance director, Elaine Fitzgerald, said. “From that point of view she is quite happy with the draw.” The first three in each heat and the six fastest losers overall will go through Monday’s final (6.35pm Irish time).

By that point, Inzikuru should have already reinforced her challenge for a first world title for Uganda. The 23-year-old has run three of the world’s four fastest times this year, topped by her 9:15.04 win at the Athens super Grand Prix in June. Wioleta Janowska from Poland was second fastest this year following her personal best of 9:25.09. Salone Kipchumba from Kenya, who will line up alongside Roisin McGettigan in the first heat, pushed Inzikuru for much of the way in Athens while one of three strong Russians, Yelena Zadorozhnaya (9:36.32) also goes in this heat.

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Join us for a special evening of Cheltenham chat on Friday March 12 at 6.30pm with racing legend and Irish Examiner columnist Ruby Walsh, Irish Examiner racing correspondent Tommy Lyons, and former champion jockey and tv presenter Mick Fitzgerald, author of Better than Sex.

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