European Athletics: Paul Pollock top Irishman in half marathon in Amsterdam

Paul Pollock, Kevin Seaward and Mick Clohisey after Sunday's race in Amsterdam
Paul Pollock, Kevin Seaward and Mick Clohisey will represent Ireland in next month's Olympic marathon

Paul Pollock answered the criticism of his Olympic selection by being the first Irish finisher in Sunday's half marathon at the European Championships.

Pollock's time of 1:04.28 left him as comfortably the leading Irishman in 17th spot in Amsterdam.

The Holywood man was two minutes and 55 seconds behind winner, Switzerland's Eritrea-born Tadesse Abraham.

Other Irish Olympic marathon selections Mick Clohisey (1:06.00) and Kevin Seaward (1:06.20) were 32nd and 34th.

Sergio Ciobanu, omitted from Ireland's Olympic team despite having a qualifying time 24 seconds faster than Pollock, finished 57th in the Amsterdam race in 1:07.46.

Moldovan-born Ciobanu appealed against his Rio omission but his plea was unsuccessful.

Pollock 'had to be' first Irishman

"After all the controversy about the (Olympic) marathon selection, the first thing was that I had to be first Irishman here," said Pollock, 30, after Sunday's race.

"To be honest, I did that and did that comfortably. I have to look on a lot of positives from that.

"Coming first Irishman here hopefully shows that the selectors made the right decision."

Pollock added that he was not in the kind of shape he demonstrated in March when he finished an impressive 14th at the World Half Marathon Championship in Cardiff.

"At the moment, I am in a block of heavy marathon training. In the grand scheme of things, I know I could have come here fitter and run faster but the focus for the summer is Rio and everything is building towards that."

Gladys Ganiel is Ireland's reserve for the women's marathon at the Olympic Games
Gladys Ganiel finished 71st in the women's half marathon in Amsterdam

Back twinge inhibits Seaward

Pollock's training partner Seaward said that a back twinge in recent days meant that he did hold back somewhat in Sunday's race.

"My aim today was to start out a little bit more relaxed and work my way through," said the 32-year-old.

"I had a bit of a sore back this week. Nothing too serious but with the twists and turns of the course today, I didn't want to risk anything for Rio."

The other two Irish male hopefuls Mark Hanrahan and Donegal man Gary Murray both dropped out.

North Belfast's Gladys Ganiel, who is the reserve for Ireland's Olympic team, was 71st in the women's race in 1:18.06.

Claire McCarthy finished 48th in 1:16.02 which left her five minutes and 43 seconds behind Portuguese winner Sara Moreira.

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