Ava Hutchinson: Houston, we have an Olympian!

Well done to Ava Hutchinson, who has qualified for the Olympic marathon. In yesterday’s Houston marathon the Dundrum woman ran 2:35:33, a minute and a half inside the A standard for London, to finish fourth. She now joins Linda Byrne and Mark Kenneally as Irish qualifiers for the Olympic marathons.

It was only Hutchinson’s second marathon. Her previous trip was last October’s Dublin marathon, where she missed the qualifying time of 2:37:00 by a few minutes (but had the consolation of beating me by an hour).

Also in Houston yesterday, Belfast runner Gladys Ganiel finished eighth with a time of 2:40:56 – a great performance which bodes well for another tilt at qualification.

Unfortunately, Hutchinson’s achievement will probably be lost in the media buzz surrounding an Irish athlete who was also due to run in Houston. That runner, Martin Fagan, was busy dealing with a positive test for EPO. (You can read Fagan’s own words in a remarkable interview by Ian O’Riordan of The Irish Times.)

Let’s hope than Hutchinson, Fionnuala Britton and our other élite athletes aren’t now going to be tarred with the brush of ‘sure they’re all at it’.

UPDATE: Ava Hutchinson is officially selected for the Irish Olympic women’s marathon team along with Caitriona Jennings and Linda Byrne. Read on..

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