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Irish Runner Vents Anger At Kenyan Athlete Earning Irish National Title In Dublin Marathon

Gavin Cooney
By Gavin Cooney
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The Dublin marathon took place yesterday, with a record 20,000 entrants pounding the streets of Dublin in pursuit of ambitions both metal and bespoke.

Kenyan Bernard Rotich won the men's race in a time of 2 hours 15 minutes, while the women's race was won by Nataliya Lehonkova of Ukraine, who finished in a time of 2 hours and 28 minutes.

The Irish title, meanwhile, (awarded to the highest-placed Irish runner) did not go to Dundalk's Gary O'Hanlon (as he had thought as he crossed the finish line) but instead to Kenyan-born Freddy Sittuk.


Sittuk finished fourth, and as he is affiliated to the Raheny Shamrocks club and has resided in Ireland for six successive months, it was he who was conferred with the Irish national title. Sittuk took up an invite to join Raheny having met a number of athletes from the club in Kenya years ago, and splits his training time between Ireland and his native country. His ambition is not to represent Ireland at the Olympics, but Kenya. (There's a reasonably good profile of Sittuk online here).

After the race, O'Hanlon spoke to Ian O'Riordan of The Irish Times, and admitted his annoyance at the fact that Sittuk took the title:

Look, I was sure I’d won the national title, and in my head that’s the way I ran. I don’t mean to knock it, but this opens the gates, and we could be flooded now with athletes coming here to win national titles.

You hear about these Kenyans running for Turkey, or wherever, and Fionnuala McCormack giving out about missing out on medals. It’s different if they’re living here on a permanent basis....

...I felt in control the whole way, ran on my own the whole way. I don’t want to sound bitter about it, but when I heard about this, Kenyans denying other people medals, I never really thought it would affect me.

The national winner earns a €3,500 cash prize. Elsewhere, Laura Graham successfully defended her women's national title.

The full report is available to read here.


See Also: It's Past Time The IAAF Recognised Sonia O'Sullivan As A 3-Time World Champion


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