Long after the crowds had dispersed following another successful Cork City Sports and the rain began to fall a tad heavier last night at CIT, Ciarán Ó Lionáird reappeared on the track.
With the bulk of those in attendance already on their way home he gave his legs a further stretch, showing no signs of tiredness and with no adverse reaction to his achilles injury following his first competitive race since March 11.
He had of course promised a session after the meet on Twitter earlier when he posted: “Tomorrow evening CIT Cork come watch me open my season in the mile at 8:30… I’ll be doing a cheeky session afterward too! (sic)”
And even though the records will say Ó Lionáird finished in fifth position of the meet’s main event, it was still a productive evening for the Leevale man.
Australia’s Ryan Gregson took first place with a time of 3:57.98 but in a field that had over a dozen sub-four minute runners competing, the workout will prove to be a huge benefit to him ahead of London.
He is scheduled to run in the heats on the evening of August 3 and although there are still 16 days to go, this was a major step towards getting into the best possible condition.
Not just physically, but also mentally, it was important from him to come through unscathed. And he did just that without any worries.
Beginning the race near the rear of the field, Ó Lionáird gradually worked his way up to the front of the pack. With his nearest and dearest shouting him on from the side of the track, it looked like he would make a challenge for the front entering the final stretch.
It soon became apparent that there was no chance of catching the four in front of him, which also included Ireland’s Paul Robinson (the youngest sub-four man in the country), but the most important aim was achieved – a decent workout without any side effects.
After all, it was a class field and Ó Lionáird was behind them in terms of race sharpness, though he has been training fully in the past few weeks.
As fellow Corkman Robert Heffernan attested afterwards, it’s important to go through a mental rehearsal and yesterday evening would have provided unlimited benefits in that aspect.
Ó Lionáird ran off once the race finished and away from the small media area near the finish line, meaning it was impossible to get a chance to speak to him.
But Twitter, which he is incredibly entertaining on and well worth a follow in the lead up to the Olympics, gave an insight into how he felt after the race: “Good opener tonight. 3:58…never like losing but given the injury worries, it’s a great start. Excited to keep moving forward!!”
He has the Morton Mile in Dublin pencilled in as his next step towards London and that should provide another indicator as to where he stands heading to the biggest stage in athletics.
US star David Torrence, who has an impressive PB of 3:52.01, is one of several classy runners entered for that race in the capital and it’s sure to be another huge test for him next week.
The first hurdle has been negotiated cleanly and the next step will be to improve that little bit further.
Whether he can make it to the final or not in London is a question not even that athlete himself can attempt to answer at this stage but after a troublesome few months last night’s exercise was a hugely positive one for Ó Lionáird.