Kelly and Dennehy deliver in the Letzigrund, writes James Sullivan.
Mark English wasn’t the only Irish success story on day four of the European Athletics Championships in Zurich. Irish duo Feidhlim Kelly and Cathal Dennehy produced a historic one-two in the media 800m, staged in the iconic Letzigrund Stadium yesterday. Kelly took the gold with a season’s best clocking of 1:55.59, to hold off the strong challenge of Dennehy, who claimed silver with 1:57.38.
“I got out hard, and I knew after the other races that we were going to be 1-2 to be honest with you,” remarked a jubilant Kelly afterwards. “I think the fastest from the previous races was only 2:04, so the main worry was that coming up to 600 I could hear some splashes, and I was thinking if I was going to be caught this is going to be an embarrassment, because I’ve been doing a good bit of training, and I know Dennehy has been in America de-training. I’m Delighted anyway.”
The media 800m brought together some of the finest athletes in the journalism and photography world, with seven heats being run and the results being decided based on time, and the Raheny Shamrock runner feels that the magnitude of such an achievement should not be lost on the Irish public. “It’s probably just ahead of Sonia O’Sullivan’s five medals out of twelve for Ireland. We’re on a par anyway. It’s a bigger winning margin.”
However, despite his visible pride in becoming European champion, the Jumping The Gun founder still ranks other achievements from his illustrious career higher. “I’ve paced some sub four minute miles, and even a couple of weeks ago paced Ciaran O’Lionaird to a European championship standard. I think they rank a little bit higher than running against people who aren’t training.”
Dennehy, who claimed bronze at the World Championships in Moscow last year, put up a brave fight to catch the 31 year old, closing the gap significantly shortly after the bell, before Kelly found the energy to discover another gear in the closing stages. The Emerald AC runner was slightly disappointed not to claim the top spot on the podium, despite the pleasure of setting a new personal best. “There’s no prizes for second and third these days.”
Dennehy, who has just returned from a two month training camp in the USA, believes that despite coming up short yesterday, his dedicated preparations have reaped the benefits. “I’ve been at an altitude training camp, running 140 to 160 miles a week for the last two and a half months, and I’m feeling the benefits big time. I overtrained in fact, if anything. I think there was a 1:47 there today.”
However the 26 year old suggested there may have been some foul play involved, but the authorities appear to lack the appetite to try to expose him. “I was up in Flagstaff, injecting stuff. You know yourself, it’s how it goes. I take this thing seriously.”
Whether Dennehy’s comments are tongue in cheek or worth a thorough investigation remains unclear, but Kelly believes his rival is fortunate to benefit from lax anti-doping procedures on the media running circuit. “The volunteers said we get the whisky test now. I think Cathal might fail that.”