Pollock finishes strongly while Ciobanu struggles, writes James Sullivan.
Irishman Paul Pollock put in a highly commendable performance in Moscow this afternoon to finish in 21st place in the men’s marathon at the World Championships. The Antrim athlete covered the iconic 26.2 mile distance in 2:16:42, just 12 seconds off his personal best and encouragingly, ahead of next year’s European Championships in Zurich, he was the second European home.
“The plan was, if everything went well, to hopefully get into the top ten, but to finish 21st overall and second European I cant complain with that” remarked a delighted Pollock afterwards. “The conditions were hot out there and I was the last person out of the stadium after the first 400m and I think some people might have started to get a bit worried but I felt very comfortable and I paced it perfectly.”
“I think the conditions were hot but I just kept taking on water and felt comfortable with that and came through strongly towards the end.”
The 27 year old revealed that he will be putting his career on hold to focus on the road to the Rio Olympics in 2016, and that today is just the beginning for him. “I’ve been working full time up in Belfast up until last week and I’m now in a position where I can take a couple of years off the medicine and work full time as an athlete, so 21st in the world is a nice start and has a good ring to it.”
“There’s definitely more there in the future and I don’t think I have achieved near what I am capable of yet, so things are looking up towards the European Cross in December and then the Commonwealths and European Championships next year. I’m in a position now where I am feeling strong and looking forward to getting a few months of hard training under the belt before I knock out a fast 10k come spring time.”
The Annadale Striders runner, competing in his first major outdoor championship, added that the success of Rob Heffernan on Wednesday morning inspired him to perform to the best of his ability today. “I was in the stadium for the medal ceremony and to hear the anthem being played was a great feeling and it definitely does give you a lift.”
“This is the best in the world and there is no other feeling like it. I woke up this morning so nervous but there’s nowhere else I’d rather be to be honest. This is what you want to do as a full time athlete, to compete with the best and try to mix it with the best.”
There was less success for the Irish based, Sergiu Ciobanu who could fare no better than 48th place. Running in his first major championship, the Moldovan athlete struggled with the mid afternoon start time to clock 2:34:17, almost 19 minutes off his personal best of 2:15:27.
“It didn’t go well at all” stated a disappointed Ciobanu in the aftermath. “I didn’t feel like running it right from the start. I just think that half three in the afternoon was an absolutely wrong time to start a race. By this time you are tired already. It was warm enough but it was possible to race in it. I just felt flat right from the start and had no energy at all.”
The start times of the marathon events have caused controversy during these championships, with reports stating that these decisions were made to comply with the wishes of Japanese television, something which played havoc with the 30 year old’s preparations. “I think it is absolutely wrong because if you want to get used to the timing you have to come a week earlier and get used to it. Starting at half three, you hang around for six hours after you get up in the morning. You can’t just stay in bed until two or three o’clock. Then you leave the hotel on the bus at 12 o’clock and hang around another three hours. I think half three is just wrong.”
The Clonliffe Harrier also revealed that he was suffering badly from an early stage and had to really talk himself into finishing the race. “I felt like dropping out at about the 20km mark but I said I’m not here just to drop out. If I had to finish in three hours then I would finish in three hours. Maybe I will learn from this and the next championship I will get better. I’m not yet a top class athlete.”