By Mark Jones
DUBLIN — Catherina McKiernan will have a new rival to contend with when she defends her London Marathon title next April. In a move that had been anticipated for some time, Portugal’s track star Fernanda Ribeiro has now committed herself to the high-profile London event.
Better known for her duels with Sonia O’Sullivan over 5,000 and 10,000 meters, the Olympic gold medalist from Atlanta has decided to direct her considerable talents toward the classic long-distance race.
With Liz McColgan, Joyce Chepchumba and the reigning European marathon champion, Manuela Machado, also confirmed starters for London, it promises to be one of next year’s most competitive marathons.
"There will be at least four or five athletes who are capable of winning and that doesn’t happen too often in big marathon races," McKiernan said. "I’ll have to be in the best condition of my career to succeed."
For the first time, the race will carry a bonus prize of $150,000 for a world record in a women-only marathon. The bonus will go to any athlete who betters the women-only best of 2:21.46, which was run by Japan’s Naoko Takahashi.
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"It’s shaping up to be my toughest marathon yet," McKiernan said, "but I hope to be ready for it."
Dalglish bid for Celtic ignored
A takeover bid for Celtic, the world famous Scottish soccer club with strong Irish links by a group of investors who include Kenny Dalglish, U2’s Bono and Jim Kerr of Simple Minds was rejected last weekend.
Former Celtic star Dalglish was angered that the first round of his fight for control of the club had failed. He claimed that the bid had not been taken seriously.
Rock singer Kerr echoed that view. "This bid is symbolized by a great Celtic player who has been shown disrespect. Kenny Dalglish is what Celtic needs after 10 years of frustration. The club was not man enough even to meet with us."
Last October, Celtic’s managing director, Fergus McCann, made it known that he wanted to sell his 50.3 percent stake in the club. Celtic is one of the best supported soccer clubs in Ireland along with Manchester United.
Welshman snookers foes
Welshman Mark Williams won the inaugural Irish Snooker Open last weekend. Williams claimed the top prize of $80,000 when he defeated Alan McManus of Scotland, 9-4, in a one-sided final at the National Basketball Arena in Tallaght, Dublin.
Despite snooker’s current healthy state as a spectator sport, attendances were poor and the tournament failed to attract both sponsorship and TV coverage.
Ireland’s Ken Doherty was eliminated at the quarterfinal stage.
Ryan takes squash crown
World number 10 Derek Ryan powered his way to the Irish National squash title at Fitzwilliam in Dublin last weekend. Outclassing each opponent in the earlier rounds, Ryan was too strong for Willie Hosey in the final winning 9-2, 9-5, 9-0 to take the championship for a fifth time.
Ulster draw Stade
Ulster, who were historic winners over Toulouse at the quarterfinal stage, have drawn reigning French champions Stade Francais in the semifinals of rugby’s European Cup.
Even though Ulster will once again be the underdogs, they have home advantage with the game scheduled for Belfast on Jan. 9 and are optimistic of pulling off another shock result.
Meanwhile, in the All Ireland League, Lansdowne moved to the top of Div. I following their third successive win of the season. This time they defeated Clontarf 15-3 in a dour encounter as Ballymena and Garryowen also kept their unbeaten records after two games.