McGettigan baffled by 'Black Sunday'
Published 18/08/2008 | 12:16
After cheerfully likening her Olympic debut to a holiday camp, Roisin McGettigan's second experience of the 'Bird's Nest' Stadium yesterday was more like a reality TV show called 'I'm an Olympic Finalist -- Get Me Out Of Here!'
On a black Sunday for the Irish track team, the Wicklow runner had a nightmare run in the first Olympic 3000m steeplechase final, blown away by the blistering pace of Russia's Gulnara Galkina-Samitova, who knocked three seconds off her own world record to go sub-nine minutes for the first time in history.
Not helped by a fall at the water jump, McGettigan trailed in last in 9:55.89, almost a full minute behind that sensational 8:58.81 mark. The pace was such that every one of the first nine home broke 9:23, with Kenya's silver medallist Eunice Jepkorir pipping Ekaterina Volkova (Russia), for silver in 9:07.41.
It was a dramatic dip in form compared to McGettigan's qualifying last Friday, when she took second and almost broke her 9:28.29 personal best.
The pace at the front was always going to be too much for her but she had realistic top eight aspirations.
So what went wrong?
"I don't know!" she said. "I don't know if I got too excited beforehand and burned off the energy before I even got there or what, but I felt so sluggish, I was just not in the game.
"I felt alright on the start and I thought I was focused, but maybe I was too excited about finishing up high and getting an Irish record," she admitted.
She deliberately stuck with the 9:20 runners and didn't go after the early five-woman break made by the Russian, who was always headed for a record.
After three laps McGettigan lay 10th but then went out the back. "It just wasn't on and I haven't felt like that in a long time so right now I'm pretty devastated.
"But it's the Olympic Games and I definitely wanted to finish and keep my head up," she said of her inexplicable loss of form.
Derval O'Rourke's failure to get out of her 100m hurdles heats, running a dreadfully sub-par 13.22, was more easily explained but just as devastating for the European silver medallist.
O'Rourke has had injury problems all year and a recent groin strain meant she only started running full flights of hurdles again last week.
Also an asthmatic, she revealed that she has had breathing problems since arriving in Asia and was on two additional inhalers since the pre-Olympic camp in Japan.
She looked nervous from the outset and uncharacteristically false-started.
"It was terrible," she admitted. "I've been having really bad problems breathing, I assumed it wouldn't affect me because I do 100m hurdles.
"That's the only thing I can put it down to, but at the same time, I'm not going to stand here and make excuses. When I put myself out there I'm responsible for how I run, and that was terrible."
She will be kicking herself further after seeing Susanna Kallur, Sweden's European champion, who also had an injury-ravaged year, qualify joint fastest (12.68) with Spain's Josephine Onyia, and the fact that 13:05 got through; her own season-best is 12.90.
The night was a washout too for Dublin's Michelle Carey. She finished last in her 400m hurdles heat in 57.99 and while she had only qualified with the 'B' standard it was still well off her 56.19 PB.
Elsewhere, Primoz Kozmus, the world silver medallist, won Slovenia's first Olympic athletics gold with an 82.02 hammer throw and Cameroon's Mbango Etone retained her triple jump title with a new Olympic record of 15.39m.