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Monday, 24 November 2014

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Carlisle's Tom Farrell: Robbed of his Olympic dream

Carlisle athlete Tom Farrell today revealed his heartbreak after injury robbed him of his Olympic dream.

Tom Farrell photo
Tom Farrell

As 2012 fever grows, with the Olympic torch due in Cumbria on Wednesday, the 21-year-old Scotby runner is facing up to the realisation that a stress fracture in his right foot has ruled him out of the Games.

He was to have taken part in trials at Birmingham on Sunday, which could have confirmed his place in the 5,000 metres for London 2012. The injury means his hopes of Olympic glory are on hold until Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

He said: “It is totally heartbreaking. There aren’t many more words to describe it.

“This was the home Olympics. I’ll never get another chance to compete in an Olympic Games in the UK.”

The problem flared up a week ago during training.

An X-ray revealed a stress fracture of the third metatarsal.

Tom said: “It was so painful I had to pull up.”

The Team GB doctors, based at Loughborough University in Leicestershire, examined the injury on Friday. Tom said: “We came to the conclusion that it was too much of a race against time to try to get fit again for the Olympics.

“Full recovery from this sort of injury takes six to eight weeks – if you’re lucky.”

Ironically, the former pupil of Austin Friars St Monica’s School in Carlisle had never intended to compete in London 2012. But he was propelled to the brink of the GB team by becoming only the third British runner to achieve the 5,000 metres qualifying time when he hit a personal best of 13min 15.31sec in March.

But for the injury, he would have been in a four-way fight for two places with world champion Mo Farah, Morpeth’s Nick McCormick – who achieved the qualifying time only this month – and Barrow-born Chris Thompson.

Tom’s father, David Farrell, said: “The timescale to try to get him fit was just too tight.

“There are a number of treatments that can fast track the process.

“If Tom had been in his thirties, and this had been his last chance of an Olympics, we’d have thrown the kitchen sink at it to get him fit. The moment you speed the process up you risk other domino effects. We just didn’t want to risk that. It’s devastating, heart breaking and frustrating but I think we’ve made the right decision.”

Tom hopes to compete again when he returns to Oklahoma University in the United States in the autumn. He won a sports scholarship there that allows him to combine competitive running with studies for a business degree.

He had been training with his old club, the Border Harriers, in preparation for the Olympic trials.

The Olympic torch arrives in Carlisle on Wednesday and heads to west Cumbria on Thursday.

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