Maria McCambridge – OMG! (Olympic Marathon, great!)

Well done to Maria McCambridge, who has joined Linda Byrne and Ava Hutchinson in qualifying for the women’s marathon at this year’s Olympics.

The Letterkenny runner finished ninth in today’s Rome Marathon with a time of 2:36:37 – just 23 seconds inside the Olympic ‘A’ standard of 2:37:00 required for selection in Ireland’s team for the Games. As reported by the Irish Examiner, McCambridge ran the first half in 1:17:37. Her finishing time suggests she slowed down slightly in the second half of the race, so she deserves credit for hanging on for the ‘A’ time.

McCambridge had come close to qualifying in previous races, notably last October’s Dublin Marathon when she faded at the 20-mile mark and missed the ‘A’ time by around 3 minutes.

Ireland now has a full team of three for the Olympic women’s marathon. But what happens if a fourth Irish woman makes the ‘A’ standard? Belfast-based Gladys Ganiel has come close to it, with near misses in Dublin and Houston – should she finally get under the magical 2:37:00 mark then there’ll be an interesting dilemma for the Irish selectors, not to mention one very disappointed Irish marathon runner.

UPDATE: Unfortunately for McCambridge, she misses out on an Olympic place as Caitriona Jennings (a subsequent qualifier), Linda Byrne and Ava Hutchinson are selected. Read on..

But Maria McCambridge’s Olympic qualification is bound to be overshadowed by another Irish marathon running feat today. Over in Los Angeles, scene of John Treacy’s 1984 silver-medal run, runners in the city marathon included none other than Irish pop twins Jedward. Are the two lads training to add Olympic marathon gold to a possible Eurovision victory in 2012? Is Jedward world domination now officially complete? And who would win in a marathon, Jedward or Joe Strummer?

Here are Jedward, interviewed live on local television while running in today’s L.A. Marathon. (Update: The Daily Mail reports that they finished the race, and has a picture of them with their finisher’s medals! No news yet of their time.)

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