Ireland’s Joanne Cuddihy got Éire off to a tremendous start in the Olympic stadium by qualifying to the 400m semi-finals this morning, despite a considerably (for her) under-par run.
The 28 year old Kilkenny City Harrier athletic club member finished fourth in the first heat in a slow time of 52.09 by her standards and then faced an anxious wait to see if it would be good enough to get her through as one of three ‘fastest losers’.
The normally unshakeable warrior had convinced herself that her time wasn’t going to be fast enough to make it, saying “no chance!” immediately afterwards.
Ms. Cuddihy, who finished behind Francena McCorory of the US, Great Britain’s Christine Ohuruogu and Joy Sakari of Kenya, initially thought she was out.
However, the fastest three non-qualifiers progress along with the first three in each heat, and as torrential rain began to fall on the Olympic Stadium, times began to drop.
But as six more heats had progressed Cuddihy’s survival became a very real possibility and her hopes were lifted as she was still the fastest loser with one heat to go. Her time ultimately proved to be enough and she was the fastest runner up.
Ms. Cuddihy said, “I thought I could still finish really strong and that was what I had to do to get the kind of times that I wanted to run and it was just a gamble that didn’t play off today.
“That was some crowd, a super track and I would have loved to have the opportunity to go out again.”
Getting through as the fastest loser may have been a lucky break but one which Ms. Cuddihy gladly accepted and it was a much jolt for the hopes of the Irish ahead of tonight’s runs by Ciaran O’Lionaird (1500m heats) and Fionnuala Britton (10,000m final).