Ballinamore’s Colin Griffin has his sights firmly set on the London Olympics next year as he targets qualification over 50km at a European Grand Prix event in Dudince in Slovakia in March.
The time of 3.59.00 is something Colin achieved with relative ease every year since his first attempt at the distance in 2007 where he posted a PB of 3.51.32, but this year injury and disqualification prevented him from posting a 50km performance leaving him chasing qualification in early 2012.
An abdominal injury forced him to stop at the 35km mark at the European Cup while he was disqualified, along with one third of the entire field, at the 30km mark at the World Championships and on both occasions, he was comfortably inside the qualification standard.
But the biggest heartbreak came in late September at a 50km race in Germany when he was disqualified at the 48km mark while on course for a time five minutes inside the Olympic standard.
“It has been a very difficult year to say the least,” said Colin, “Little did I think this time last year that I would be in this situation after so many things happening that prevented me posting a qualifying time. But I have to accept where I am and I think I’ve learned every lesson that could possibly be learned in one season.
“I know what I have to do in March and it will be important that I post an impressive performance to not only ensure qualification but also selection as there are four of us chasing three places”
With Robert Heffernan already qualified along with Brendan Boyce, who dipped inside the standard in September, and with Jamie Costin also chasing the qualification time; there are four athletes competing for three places, which demonstrates the huge strength of the event in Ireland.
With the disqualification an issue at the World Championships and the race in September, but ironically not a problem in his other races, Colin has made some changes to his support team in an effort to ensure that his technique does not let him down in Olympic year.
He has ended his coaching relationship with top Italian coach Sandro Damilano, as he felt he was not able to get enough of his time and attention due to his commitments with other athletes.
Colin has sourced the help of Cork biomechanical expert and physical therapist Liam O’Reilly who will help him with key sessions by providing technical feedback and support. Liam also works with Robert Heffernan, which means that Colin will train with Robert more often which should no doubt help each other.
“At the end of this season I had to make some changes and I felt I had gone as far as I can go with my Italian coach and he had become contracted to coach the Chinese squad, which took up most of his time which I was getting less of in the past two years.
“It has been a great learning experience and I believe it will benefit me in the years ahead, but what I need is more hands-on support on a consistent basis and I believe I have made the best use of what’s available locally in Ireland with Liam.
“Having someone with me to supervise key sessions and provide verbal queues for changing technique is the priority. What I perceive I’m doing may not always be what I am actually doing, so regular supervision and feedback is vital.”
To read the full story see this week’s Leitrim Observer.