Category: Archive

Ruling idles McKiernan for world championship

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Mark Jones

DUBLIN — The BLE, Ireland’s governing body for track and field, was left with egg on its chin last week when it prevented Catherina McKiernan from competing in next week’s World Half-Marathon Championship in Zurich, Switzerland.

McKiernan wanted to run in the race in preparation for the Amsterdam marathon in November, but BLE initially refused to have her entered, claiming insufficient funds. When McKiernan said she would pay her own way, BLE demanded a contractual agreement committing her to compete in both the Irish cross-country championship and the world cross-country championship in Belfast next year.

Not wanting to be dictated to and unsure of her future competitive plans, McKiernan refused to sign any contract and BLE responded by standing by its refusal to enter her in the high-profile Zurich race.

"I wouldn’t sign any contract just for the sake of getting an easy passage to Zurich," said McKiernan, who chose not to apply for an elite athlete’s grant from the Irish government. BLE’s decision now means that McKiernan, and Ireland, is being deprived of a chance to win a world title.

The athlete’s manager, Ray Flynn, said from his Johnson City, Tenn., base: "It’s a real snub, no doubt about it. When your own governing body won’t let you represent your country, you have to take it badly. The contract business was a joke and the whole thing is unprecedented in athletics." Flynn also claimed that BLE still refuses to recognize him as McKiernan’s agent.

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McKiernan, who has won recent high-profile marathons in London and Berlin as well as four silver medals at the world cross-country championships, has decided not to pursue the matter and is running in a modest half marathon in Luxembourg instead. The BLE, meanwhile, flies in the face of both common sense and public opinion and sticks to its bureaucratic guns.

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