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Sprinter Hession looks to final frontier in shot at big time

He will not be samba-dancing beforehand, or shooting lightning bolts from an imaginary bow in celebration, but Paul Hession could very well find himself in the spotlight and make Irish athletics history here in Beijing.

White European sprinters are rarely seen in Olympic or World 200m finals, but that has not deterred the ambitious Galway star.

He is just one of three big Irish names making their Olympic debut in qualifying today.

Two-time European Indoor 400m champion David Gillick and Kilkenny hammer thrower Eileen O'Keeffe will also be feeling the pressure to carry the can.

But while the other two are saddled with stifling expectation -- and O'Keeffe is burdened with a really serious injury doubt -- it is Hession who could yet surprise everyone.

He is truly the anti-Bolt.

A medical student who has now put his studies on hold twice to hone his talent for speed, he favours historical fiction and devours movies to keep his mind busy on the international athletics circuit.

A switch to Scottish coach Stuart Hogg has brought him on leaps and bounds and his 20.30 PB is world-class and should fall here -- if his usual icy race-day demeanour holds firm.

But the big imponderable here is what kind of 'A Game' everyone else brings and as the 200m will be a battle zone, standards will soar and so too must he.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph