Sprinter Hession peaking at right time for LondonJuly 26, 2012 - 7:00am
THE fastest Irishman in history over 200 metres, Athenry native Paul Hession, has put his medical studies at NUI Galway on hold over the past six years in order to focus completely on full-time athletics as he looks forward to his second Olympic Games.
Hession narrowly missed out on a place in the 200m final at Beijing four years ago, after a decent performance in the semi-final, and only missed out on a place at the Athens Olympics in 2004 by two-hundredths of a second.
The 29-year old achieved the qualifying time for London at the Irish Championships in August of last year, running 200m in 20.51 seconds at Santry. That run has given the Athenry AC man plenty of time to finalise his preparations for an event in which he could yet rub shoulders with Jamaican superstar Usain Bolt.
Realistically, Hession is not going to win the 200m final, but he should be strong enough to make the semi-finals and it would be a dream come true for the Athenry man to surpass his achievement in Beijing, by making it to the final.
After being based in Fife, Scotland, for the best part of six years, where he trained under Stuart Hogg, Hession relocated to Dublin last winter and has been with coach John Coghlan since the turn of the year.
He struggled to achieve peak form in the early part of this year, but has shown a steady improvement in recent weeks with victory over Jason Smyth in the 100m final at the national championships at Santry last month in a time of 10.37 seconds.
Hession was not particularly impressive at the European Championships in Helsinki, but looked to be coming into good form at just the right time when he clocked 20.54 at Lucerne, Switzerland, on Tuesday, July 17, last. He set the Irish record of 20.30 in 2007.
All of his focus right now is on the 200m heats on Tuesday week, August 7. He has delayed making the short flight to London until next Thursday, August 2, as he believes that the hype surrounding the Opening Ceremony can be something of a distraction.
“I am hoping to make the semi-final, like I did in Beijing. Beyond that we will see. Making the final won’t be easy. Everything would have to go perfectly for me, but it’s not impossible,” he told Tribune Sport this week.
“As in Beijing, I’m expecting the semi-final to be my Olympic final. I would have to have a bit of luck on the draw. If I got a decent draw, I could make it. My aim is to get to the semi-final and then to give it a real shot. A bit of luck comes into it at that stage. Things are coming together really well for me at this stage and I have learned from past seasons.”
Experience helps, and he was hugely encouraged by his run in Lucerne – his fastest time this year. It proved he was on track to peak for London, after a sluggish start to the year which may have been down to the change of location and trainer.
For more, read this week's Connnacht Tribune.