While the US process for selecting members to its Olympic Team can be harsh (just ask Dan O’Brien, Jeff Hartwig, Michael Johnson and Maurice Green), how you make the team is, at least, clear. For Gulf Winds Track Club member Breeda Dennehy-Willis, making the Irish Olympic Team was not so simple. First there is the “feud” between the AAI and the OCI. (I think that is the Athletic Association of Ireland and the Olympic Council of Ireland.) The AAI conducts the National Championships and the OCI has the final say in the team selection, or so they say. So, if you are Breeda what do you do? You just run fast enough to leave them with no option but to select you. First, she ran a PR of 15:12.83 at the Nacht van de Atletiek track meet in Belgium. That is the fastest time of any Irish women this year, except for Sonia O’Sullivan. That seemed to take care of the OCI, which formerly selected her to run in both the 5,000 and 10,000 in Sydney before the National Championships. But to leave no doubt about the decision, she proceeded to win the Irish National Championships this weekend at Morton Stadium, running a 15:25.32. She and Una English (15:26.89) put on a show for the crowd, with Breeda taking the win after digging deep in the last lap to beat English in a thrilling race.
The 5,000 meter competition in Sydney will begin on Friday, September 22, at 6:00 p.m. The finals will be held on Monday, September 25, at 8:55 p.m. The 10,000 meter opening round is scheduled to begin on September 27, with the finals on September 30, at 7:00 p.m. So, it is possible to run both. If you want all the details on what happens, you will just have to attend another great presentation in the GWTC lecture series. Mary Jean Yon and Breeda have scheduled a lecture for October 23, 2000 at 7:30. Be sure to mark it on your calendar and come hear Breeda tell her personal story of a great opportunity. And in the meantime, keep your fingers crossed and wish for good health!!!