Home News O’Connor retains Irish crown as foreigners rule roost

O’Connor retains Irish crown as foreigners rule roost


from the Independent.ie Michael O’Connor of Galway City Harriers is cheered home by supporters as he crosses the finishing line in the Dublin Marathon at Merrion Square to retain the Irish Marathon Championship. TOP-QUALITY running from the front resulted in the overseas dominance of the Dublin Marathon being maintained yesterday when Andriy Naumov from the Ukraine and Larissa Zousko of Russia took the honours with class performances.

Naumov, a 35-year-old from the city of Donetsk, ran a lifetime best of 2:11:06 to take the men’s title and collect the €15,000 top prize which he said he will spend on family needs back home.

Zousko (39) who hails from the centre of Siberia, ran a most judicious race to take the women’s crown in 2:29:55 — the third fastest winning time in the 28-year history of the event. Pacing herself to near perfection, she caught long-time leader Kebebush Haile from Ethiopia, just inside the final mile and there was never any doubt about the outcome after that.

“This is my greatest victory and my greatest day,” said Naumov, looking remarkably fresh, almost as if he could do the same again.

“I could have run faster,” he admitted. “I trained especially for this race and I hope you will see me again next year. The winning feeling is good.”

Naumov, who was up with the leaders for most of the race, came storming back after being dropped at one point, to take the lead going up the Clonskeagh Road.

The Ukrainian was hauled back, first by Tomas Abyu of Britain, and then by Thomas Omwenga of Kenya. However, he was not going to be denied and found fresh reserves of strength to come away again and finished full of running, raising his arms in triumph as he came home 83 seconds in front of Omwenga, with Abyu third in 2:13:06.

For a long time, it looked as if the women’s race would be a battle between Genet Measso of Ethiopia, Helalia Johannes of Namibia and Haile. But all the time the sweet-striding Zousko — who was second last year — was running a patient race and this paid off.


“I have run a faster time but this is my first big international victory,” said Zousko.

“I would like to spend the money on taking my husband and my nine-year-old son on a holiday when I get back home,” added the 39-year-old, who became the sixth Russian to win the women’s race in the last seven years.

There was plenty of joy for the Irish, not least for Maria McCambridge, the 32-year-old Dubliner, who made a noteworthy marathon debut, winning the Irish Championship title in 2:36:33 — the fastest time recorded by an Irish woman since Marie Davenport ran 2:33:59 in 2005.

While McCambridge was thrilled to have made such a fine debut, she had mixed feelings about the outcome.

For, while her time is inside the IAAF standard (2:42) set for the World Championships next year, she was short of the higher standard of 2:35 set by Athletics Ireland.

“I will probably have to run another marathon if I want to compete in Berlin and will most likely target Paris next April.

“I was very strong in the second half of the race but I had trouble with my feet and need to do something about that,” added McCambridge, whose athletics career has taken an upward curve since she moved to live in Donegal with her partner, Gary Crossan who competed in his 22nd marathon yesterday.

Defending champion Michael O’Connor from Galway won the men’s Irish Championship in a personal best time of 2:20:49 from Brian McMahon (2:27:26) and Pat Cassidy (2:27:55).

“I was on target for 2:18 with about three miles to go but my legs went after going up this little hill which did not look much,” said O’Connor.

So will we see him back next year in a bid to make it three in a row?

“I’m delighted with what I have achieved, but I think it’s time to give this thing up. I’ve arthritis in both feet and I’m sick of the training and I think it’s time to go play a bit of football with my young lad and drink a few pints.”

– Tom O’Riordan