Spontaneity the name of the game for underprepared Irishman, writes James Sullivan.
Just 24 hours after Rob Heffernan sensationally claimed gold in the men’s 50k Race Walk at the World Championships in Moscow, Irish eyes were smiling again as Cathal Dennehy took the bronze medal this afternoon in the men’s 800m media championships.
The Limerick athlete recorded a season’s best of 2:05.34, to finish in second in his heat, ranking him third overall, behind the Czech Republic’s Michal Prochazka, who took top honours with a clocking of 2:00.81, and silver medalist Javier Moro of Spain who recorded 2:01.92. Flotrack’s Alex Lohr, representing the USA had to make do with fifth place in 2:06.86, failing to emulate his bronze medal performance of two years ago in Daegu.
“I had thought I’d be about 2:12 and that would be as good as it gets” remarked a shocked Dennehy afterwards. “In a battle of the trans-Atlantic today I came out on top, but the guy from Spain absolutely crushed me.”
The event, held inside the Luzhniki Stadium, is the focal point in the media running calender, with in excess of 120 journo-runners fighting for the three elusive medals, presented by none-other than former world 100m champion, Yohan Blake of Jamaica. Dennehy, however, approached the event in an alternative manner. “Alex showed up in his big USA speed-suit, and I was beside a guy in a Spanish singlet and a Russian one piece and they all had spikes on, so I said to myself, I am not having that. We in Ireland do it the old fashioned way, with big chunky thick runners. I said, you know what, I’m just going to run with heart, normal heart.”
The Irishman hit the bell with 64 on the clock, before upping the tempo down the backstraight to close in a speedy 61 seconds, evidently uninhibited by his race attire which consisted of tennis shorts, a pair of trainers, and a t-shirt underneath his official Irish vest, specially designed for this championship event.
“Who needs technology. It’s about blue collar running” explained Dennehy, who becomes Ireland’s first medal winner in the history World Championship media race, which has been on the IAAF World Championship programme since 1987. “None of those Oregon project gizmo’s here. None of that stuff. Just old fashioned hard work. No warm up, nothing.”
Unwilling to put in the hard yards over the previous weeks, the former European Cross-Country representative revealed that something a little more sinister may have been at play. “I got a nice shipment. A nice box of something special from Mexico there last week in preparation for this and it turned out pretty well.”
However, preparations had a last minute twist when Robert Heffernan won the world title yesterday. “I’m definitely going to fail the blood alcohol test because we won gold yesterday and it’s still in my system. We went on the lash.”
Despite his own personal success, Ireland’s latest sporting hero believes that the depth of Irish media 800m running is not where it should be and was unimpressed by the performance of his anonymous colleague who could fare no better than a lowly 19th place overall. “He was awful. He disgraced the Irish singlet today.”
Click here for full coverage of the 2013 World Championship media race.