Rio 2016 Olympics: Fionnuala McCormack 20th in women's marathon

Fionnuala McCormack, Lizzie Lee and Breege Connolly after completing the women's Olylmpic marathon in Rio
Fionnuala McCormack, Lizzie Lee and Breege Connolly were all delighted with their performances in Rio

Ireland's Fionnuala McCormack clocked a personal best to finish a creditable 20th in the women's Olympic marathon.

McCormack's time of 2:31.22 cut 24 seconds off her previous best set as she was just over seven minutes behind winner Kenya's Jemima Jelagat Sumgong.

Cork woman Lizzie Lee clocked 2:39.57 to finish 57th with Leitrim-born North Belfast athlete Breege Connolly clocking 2:44.41 in 76th place.

Connolly was making her Olympic debut at the age of 38.

Qualifying for the Olympics was tremendous achieve for Connolly who only ran her first competitive marathon in 2012.

Breege Connolly looks thrilled after completing the women's Olympic marathon in Rio
Breege Connolly said the Olympic had been the "best running week of my life"

Marathon run in temperature of 27 degrees

Connolly qualified for the Rio Games after clocking 2:37.24 in London last year.

After her London run, Connolly faced over a year of waiting to see whether that time would be good enough to secure her Olympic berth.

In the event, it was and she got the opportunity to become an Olympian on Sunday in a race run in temperatures of 27 degrees centigrade.

"It's been the best running week of my life," said Connolly afterwards.

"It was tough and I went to Monte Gordo (in Portugal) warm weather training.

"Nothing can prepare you properly for racing in the heat but I'm delighted with my run. It's a relief after all the hard work."

The Leitrim woman is not a full-time athlete although she did take off the immediate two months before Sunday's race to prepare for her Olympic challenge.

McCormack picks her way through field

Fionnuala McCormack in the closing metres of the women's Olympic marathon
Fionnuala McCormack picked her way through the field after a cautious opening 5Km

McCormack was outside the top 70 places after the first 5Km but moved her way up the field during the remainder of the race.

"It was tough but it was nice to be top 20 and I think it's my best Olympics to date," said McCormack, who set her previous marathon best when finishing 10th at the 2014 European Championships.

Lee was also thrilled with her performance.

"I'm absolutely delighted. Sub 2:40 was the plan," said the Cork athlete.

"We all felt it tough out there. It's so hot out there. I'm an Olympian and no one can take that away from me."

Winner Sumgong, 31, clocked 2:24.04 to finish nine seconds ahead of another Kenyan-born athlete Eunice Jepkirui Kirwa, who was representing Bahrain, with Ethiopia's world champion Mare Dibaba a further 17 seconds back in third.

Top Stories