JOANNE CUDDIHY WAS the first Irish athlete involved as Olympic interest turned to track and field in east London this morning.
The Kilkenny woman looked well positioned after 300 metres, but finished fourth in her 400 metre heat. Just outside the automatic qualification places with a time of 52.09.
Cuddihy, 28, faced an anxious wait through the following heats to see if she would make it as one of the three fastest runners-up.
In the immediate aftermath, before a sudden downpour gave the surface less traction, Cuddihy felt that the time would not be good enough:
“I’m gutted really.” She told Will Downing, “That’s just not good enough. My legs just absolutely died in the latter bit of the race.
“With nerves before the race, I was worried that I’d chicken out and be over-cautious. I probably overcompensated for that and just went for it.
“It wasn’t intended to be such a suicide mission. I really thought from training that’s where I need to do. I genuinely thought I could do it, it was only towards the end that I just couldn’t do anything about it. I tried everything I could.”
That effort, as it turned out, was enough to put her through as the following competitors struggled on the wet ground.
Still out of breath, Cuddihy said her time was “abysmal”, but added that:
“I’d be the happiest person here today if that [qualifying] was to happen.”
She’s done it.