Kilcoole’s Fionnuala McCormack finished an excellent 20th place in the women’s marathon in a personal best of 2:31:22 in searing heat at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday.
The Wicklow woman was backed up ably by Lizzie Lee (Leevale) 57th in 2:39:57 and Breege Connolly (North Belfast Harriers) 76th in 2:44:41.
This was McCormack’s third Olympic Games (3,000m steeplechase in Beijing 2008; 5,000m/10,000m in London 2012) and one which she believes is her best yet.
“It was tough but it was nice to be top 20 and I think it’s my best Olympics to date,” said McCormack. “Maybe I’m just lucky,” she continued with regards her ability to perform well in hot conditions. “It doesn’t phase me before the start. I know I can actually run in it.”
McCormack finished an excellent 14th at the World Cross Country Championships in Mombasa in 2007 and 16th in Punta Umbria in 2011 – both hot and testing conditions.
This was the Kilcoole athlete’s third marathon and her second in a championship – something which she prefers to the major marathon road circuit.
“I like the championships,” she said “It’s racing rather than time trialling. I love running for my country. I think it was a very good course.” McCormack made her marathon debut at the European Championships in Zurich finishing 10th in 2:31:46 – her previous best time before today.
Lizzie Lee was delighted with her top 60 position in brutal conditions. “I’m absolutely delighted,” she affirmed. “Sub 2:40 was the plan. It was so tough in the closing stages. We all felt it tough out there. It’s so hot out there. I’m an Olympian and no one can take that away from me.”
Leitrim’s Breege Connolly was equally delighted with her performance and was vastly ahead of her ranking in going into the race which had 158 competitors.
“It’s been the best running week of my life,” said Connolly afterwards who was pleased her hard work building up to the event paid off. “It was tough and I went to Monte Gordo (in Portugal) warm weather training. Nothing can prepare you properly for racing in the heat but I’m delighted with my run. It’s a relief after all the hard work.”