On Friday last in Berlin Jamie Cost

in made a brave bid to get his highest-ever placing in a major championships before once again encountering problems in the very latter stages of the 50km Walk, the majority of which was held in a temperature of 33 degrees and very humid conditions. He eventually had to pull out of the race well into the last 5 kilometres, at which point he was a very respectable 22nd, which would have been his best ever performance over this distance in a major race.

In extreme distances, especially in the heat, dehydration is a major problem and Jamie has had more than his share of problems in his 50km races.

It’s worth pointing out that in last week’s race only 36 finished out of the 48 that started, including many top names, and the other Irish walker Colin Criffin was among them.

Irish performances

Fourteen athletes competed for Ireland and like every other country there were disappointing performances from some of the athletes, among them a man who promised much a few years ago, Alastair Cragg.

Others who didn’t perform to their full potential were Roisin McGhettigan, Eileen O’Keeffe, Deirdre Ryan and Deirdre Byrne, but others were magnificent.

Olive Loughnane, after years in the top ten or so at Race Walking, had a superb race in the 20km to take the silver medal. Derval O’Rourke also had a magnificent championships, setting a season’s best in the semi-final of the 100m hurdles, then leading the star-studded field n the final over four hurdles before finishing a fine fourth with an Irish record; what more could one ask from a great competitive athlete dogged with injury just before the event. Michelle Carey ran well in the 400 metres hurdles, while David Gillick was brilliant in making the 400 metres final and eventually finished sixth and maybe he could have achieved a few places better if he hadn’t run the first 200 metres so fast, something he also did in the semi-final.

Our other sprinter Paul Hession made a bold bid to make the 200m final but eventually lost out by two places after making it to the semi-final.

Robert Heffernan had a very respectable result in the 20k walk in 15th place and the effort of Ring’s Jamie Costin in the 50k walk has to be commended.

Overall the performances by the Irish athletes has to be put into perspective when you consider the very small number of senior athletes registered in the country and the very poor support they get from the public.

How many, other than only those closely associated with clubs, have ever attended a County Championship meeting, a Munster Championships or a National Championships? The answer is very few. Yet Athletics of all the other individual sports is probably Ireland’s most successful at international level and this is allowing for the many shortcomings in the way the sport is organised nationally.

A full list of all the medals won by Irish athletes at international level is available on the Athletics Ireland website for anyone who wishes to see the extensive evidence of how successful we’ve been.

The reality is that the majority of people in Ireland only hear about athletics when the Olympics, World or European Championships come around and they see them on TV (on the subject of which, well done to the BBC once again for excellent coverage, including lots of exposure and interviews with Irish athletes). Yet at major championship times people who have very little knowledge of the Irish athletes or their rigid training routines are the first to express opinions, mostly negative.