London’s Olympics will have a Leitrim flavour next August after Ballinamore’s Colin Griffin defied incredible heat and two red cards in Russia when he smashed the Qualification standard to almost certainly guarantee his place at this year’s Olympic Games in London.
Less than three months after being dropped from the Irish Sports Council’s High Performance Grants package, Colin delivered the perfect response by turning in a time of 3:52:55 at the World Cup of Race-Walking in Saransk, Russia, well inside the magic Olympic “A” standard of 3:59:00.
Speaking to the Leitrim Observer on Tuesday, Colin admitted to feeling a mixture of relief and delight at achieving the standard - “It is a bit of both. It has been a long difficult campaign to get the standard but I’m delighted to have made it.”
The race was not without its drama as Colin, disqualified in his last two major races, received two red cards in the opening 10Km and the Ballinamore walker admits it prayed on his mind during the race - “I got two red cards early on and it did upset me. When you get two early on, you’re always expecting the third one but I got to a point in the race where I settled into an better rhythm and I managed to get through.”
His performance on Sunday also prompted a wave of congratulations and Colin admitted that the reaction to his Qualification time has been both surprising and uplifting - “I’ve only realised now that so many people have been following me and wishing me well, I feel proud and it is genuinely uplifting that so many people have been wishing me well.”
All that heart-ache was forgotten on Monday when Colin inspected the course in London during a stop-over on his way home from Russia, tweeting afterwards “Thanks to everyone for all their messages of support. Have experienced the dark side of sport enough in past two years to appreciate yesterday’s result.”
Although his selection for the World’s greatest sporting festival has to be officially rubber-stamped by the Olympic Council of Ireland, Colin’s time is the second ranked of the three qualified Irish walkers and should see him safely on the plane to London.
To read the full story see this week’s Leitrim Observer.