Ó Lionáird confident he is hitting top gear as London nears

Ciarán Ó Lionáird got his Olympic campaign back on track at Cork City Sports last night when he finished fifth of five athletes to go under four minutes in the featured Cork Airport Men’s Mile, which was won by Ryan Gregson (Australia) with a perfectly executed 3:57.98.

Second and third went to Americans, Liam Boylan-Pett, 3:58.38, and Elliott Heath, 3:58.48, while Ó Lionáird was overtaken by Ireland’s newest sub four man, Paul Robinson (St Coca’s), 3:58.70, before finishing fifth in 3:58.84.

“I’m happy with that start and I’m about to go out and do a (training) session now,” he said. “It was just a workday, we didn’t ease up much for it and I haven’t done anything to prepare so I was kind of thrown into the deep end and I was a little bit like a baby calf, stumbling around for the first two laps. I felt it was like my first time racing again.

“Once I settled in and got through the second lap, I relaxed, kept moving up and I thought I was going to win with 200m to go. I was ready to pull the trigger and I pulled and there was nothing there. I think that’s because it was my first day out.

“Honestly, if I can put myself in a position like that in the Olympics and I can work on that last gear and be able to pull the trigger, I think we are back to where we were last year.”

Ireland’s top Olympic racewalkers, Robert Heffernan and Olive Loughnane, stepped down to 3,000m to record two of their fastest times ever over the minimum distance, Heffernan, who is targeting the 50k in London, returning 11:14.29 and Loughnane posting her fastest time since 2004 at 12:36.21.

“I was having nightmares out there,” Robert Heffernan admitted.

“I did 40k two days ago and another 40k last Thursday — I did 170k coming into this — I’m in the middle of the hardest training block for the Olympics and I was getting visions that my legs weren’t going to work and that the crowd were just laughing at me — ‘This guy is going to be a contender and look at the state of him.’ It goes back to instincts then. I was very, very strong.

“It was a good test mentally. Even just going into the call room, getting ready to race and when you’re away training, you get out of that habit.

“These two weeks were always going to be my hardest two weeks before I start cutting back. Now I’m in Cork for a week, back into the tent for a week, and then I’m off to London on July 25.

“After that, I’ll have a massive reserve of pace for the 50k and all my training is 50k-based so that augurs well.”

Olive Loughnane, too, was pleased after she dropped down to the sprint distance on her return from a tough pre-Olympic training block in Spain.

“I’m obviously delighted with that,” she said.

“It’s my fastest time since 2004 and possibly my second or third fastest ever, and that’s good considering this is way short of my distance.”

Dean Cronin of Blarney/Inniscarra) turned in another explosive finish to triumph in the junior men’s mile in a time of 4:16.41. The 18-year-old schoolboy was a sensational winner of the 800m at the recent Woodies DIY National Senior Championships and he produced a similar finish in Cork last night to outspring Harvey Dixon (Great Britain) who clocked 4:16.87, and Darragh Lynch (Ennis TC) who clocked 4:23.41.

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