Colin targets Olympic Qualifying time

Colin Griffin is targeting a swift return to international walking action in a bid to keep his Olympic dream on track.

Colin Griffin is targeting a swift return to international walking action in a bid to keep his Olympic dream on track.

By Will Downing

The Ballinamore AC athlete is set to compete at the Namberg International Walks meeting in Germany at the end of this month, after his disqualification from the men’s 50k walk at the World Athletics Championships in Daegu, Korea.

Griffin was in a solid position of around 30th with 20 kilomentres to go when the final red card was issued against him, disqualifying him from the rest of the race.

It leaves the Leitrim man with qualification for next summer’s London Olympics still to be confirmed, and has left him with an uneasy feeling following a race where, in high humidity and temperatures of 30 Celsius, 12 of the 43 starters were disqualified.

“It’s a mixture of being angry and disappointed – angry with the judges,” Colin said afterwards, “Others have said this to me, but it concerned me watching the 20k race where there were a huge amount of red cards and disqualifications handed out – more than average. I think it’s a bit over the top.

“Yes, you have to strike a balance and be fair but some judges seem to think that they have to give out red cards to justify their day’s work. That shouldn’t be the case. It’s a huge blow, I was feeling really good, I was on for a PB, and inside the Olympic qualification time as well.

“You don’t get too many chances to racewalk over this distance really. Today, I was close to 30K and thinking: ‘This is going to be my day’. I was feeling good and was going to wait until 35K before really putting the hammer down.”

Griffin had received two warnings early on in the race, leaving him walking a disciplinary tightrope. But after travelling another 25 kilometres or so along the downtown Daegu course without further caution, Ireland’s only male walker at the Games thought the worst was over.

However, just as he was about to hit the 30km point, and with thoughts of catching a lot of those tiring in front of him, disaster struck. “I had two cards early, which is not uncommon in a 50K race, especially with (the rule concerning) knees as you’re not fully in your stride, you’re trying to settle into a good rhythm,” explained Colin.

“I suppose I was caught in no man’s land too. I wanted to be with a group , and the group ahead of me took off. I knew the pace was a bit too fast myself. A Swedish guy and French guy pulled back, so we worked together for a bit.

“I felt more settled when I started working with them. I thought when we got to 25K, if I got past that then I would be outside the danger zone of getting disqualified, because the policy is to hit people early if you’re going to disqualify someone. Generally when you get past 25K, you survive.

“When I got past that mark, I got a little bit of a lift. I’m here now, I’m getting towards 30K, feeling good, in control, composed. I felt I had another gear to use if I had to. We were lucky with the conditions too. Yes, it was humid with conditions in the mid-20s but I came here expecting an awful lot worse.

“I had an open mind, I was prepared to use my instinct. If the weather was really severe, I was prepared to adjust accordingly, but the weather wasn’t too bad. I felt in control, and working well within myself.”

To read the full story see this week’s Leitrim Observer.