Sportsfile - Dick Hooper, marathons and Holland v Ireland


THE DEFECTION and then reinclusion of Irish marathon champion Dick Hooper from the Irish team for the European Championships in Athens, this month, is but the latest episode in an ongoing saga of distrust and lack of communication between the athhlete and BLE. Briefly here are some of the bones of contention between the two parties:

* After his National Championship win in Limerick this year Hooper, in reply to a June enquiry from BLE as to his pre-Athens running plans, asked BLE to arrange some training and preeferably a long distance race in Greece for him. Given the heat of Athens and the fact that the marathon will be starting at I.OOpm, the request was' reasonable enough and was accepted by BLE as such.

* By the first week of August Hooper had become frustrated that he had heard nothing from BLE with regard to his plans and contacted BLE Presiident, Father John O'Donnell, by phone to enquire if anything had been organised on his behalf. When Hooper found that no arrangements had yet been made, he declined to discuss the matter further with either O'Donnnell or BLE's international secretary, Al Guy, and dropped out of the team. Given that the Championships are to be held in early September, Hooper had wanted to be in Greece for early August, so as to do some serious exxtended distance training, which he obbviously could not do in the last two weeks before the race, when his trainning would be scaled down.

* BLE pointed out however that had Hooper exercised patience that they were on the point of concluding arrrangements for him to go and train in Portugal. Such arrangements have been made by BLE, in association with a commercial sponsor, on behalf of Irish woman marathon runner, Carey May.

* The longstanding nature of the disspute between Hooper and BLE conncerns the RTE Dublin City Marathon. BLE did not react well either to the huge success of the Dublin marathon (which was organised by the Business Houses Running Association) or to the fact that when they expressed reserrvations about the legality of such marathons, that Hooper stated pubblicly his willingness to run the risk of expulsion from BLE by running in the Dublin race.

* Hooper himself continues to exxperience the frustrations of being neither fully amateur. nor fully proofessional. He works as a clerk in the Central Bank, Dublin and yet, in common with many other talented athletes, has tried to market himmself with commercial sponsors (Adiidas and Gowan Motors are the two examples) to supplement his salary and cover travelling expenses.

Were athletics fully out front about professionalism, and not in the present crazy half-way land of pro-amateurism, then a talented athlete like Hooper would simply have to choose either to be fully professional or amateur. If he chose to go professional, then obviously he could not, and would not, go looking to BLE to organise overseas training for him.

* Were athletics out front about money, then the bad feelings which have arisen in the past when athletes decline to compete for their counntries in favour of a more lucrative sponsored venue (Hooper annoyed BLE by refusing to compete in last year's Europa Cup marathon and by refusing to commit himself to commpeting in next year's event in Brussels) would be eliminated.

* Hooper's decision to contact Al Guy by phone from Kerry, where he was spending an extended training weekend, to settle differences was only common sense. Here's hoping he shows the same sense in his running in the Athens marathon, where inciidentally he feels he is capable of finishing in the top six. Vis a vis the heat problem, Hooper has gone out early and hopes to acclimatise by being there that bit longer.



AS HOLLAND v Ireland, September 22 in Rotterdam, approaches, all the signs are that last year's open and exxciting match will be repeated. From an Irish viewpoint, the Dutch prepaarations are going nicely, thank you.

Firstly, Holland's finest player of the current era, Rud Krol, has been discarded by the quixotic manager, Kees Rijvers. Krol had been asked to play out of position, in front of the back three, for Holland's recent games against Scotland and England. This was a completely nonsensical move from Rijvers, since at the age of 33, Krol was unlikely to adapt his play with great success - anyway in

I his correct position of libero, he was among the best in the world.

Rijver's discarding of Krol looked none too smart, when Krol's intended replacement, Johnny Metgod , announnced himself as unavailable for the Iceland v Holland game on September 1. Metgcd has been newly transferred from Alkmar to Real Madrid and he wants to play in a friendly for Real on the day of the Iceland game. Rijjver's problems for that match are not eased by the fact that also unavailable are: Tahmatta, Peters (injured), Van Der Korput, Thiessen, Rep. Furtherrmore the enigmatic Rijvers has also deeclared that Tcheu La Ling will never play again for Holland. He should be grateful that Ajax's Dick Schoenaker, who will probably play against Ireland, is in superb form. He scored twice against Ray Clemence in a pre-season friendly between Ajax and Spurs.

Ireland's problems for this game reemain as they were, a year ago. There are no competent international Irish full backs (Devine, Langan, Hughton included) and the Dutch attack is thus always likely to get to the Irish by line. Eoin Hand may for once have such a strong squad that his selection could see some important players left on the bench. If Galvin plays alonggside - Robinson and Stapleton, then who will form the three man midfield, from the choice of Brady, Daly, Greaalish and Whelan?


FOR THE benefit ot the statistically minded, here is a run down on the European rankings in the events which are likely to be contested by Irish athhletes at the forthcoming European Championships in Athens. The rankkings of the European contenders are based on their best performances this year, whilst on the right hand column we list the personal bests of the Irish contenders. Rankings are as at August 19. Table compiled by NICK DAVIES.


MEN                     Irish Performers  
1,500 Metres      
3.33.5   Ray Flynn (Ireland)           Ray Flynn 3.33.5  
3.33.66   Steve Cram (Gt. Britain)    
3.33.79   Dave Moorcroft (Gt. Britain)    
3.34.40   Pierre Deleze (Switzerland)    
3.34.87   U. Becker (W.Germany)    
3.35.25   T. Wessinghage (W.Germany)    
10,000 Metres      
27.22.95   F. Mamede (Portugal)       John Woods 28.27.28  
27.34.39   C.Lopes (Portugal)    
27.26.95   A. Haegelsteens (Belgium)    
27.33.66   W. Schildauer (GDR)    
27.34.58   J. Goater (Gt. Britain)    
27.46.98   D. Millonig (Austria)    
2.09.35   Hugh Jones (Gt. Britain)       Dick Hooper 2.12.56  
2.10.33   V. Sidorov (Soviet Union)       Louis Kenny 2.12.29  
2.11.22   S. Brunetti (Italy)    
2.11.40   S. Kenyon (Gt. Britain)    
2.12.09   1. Thompson (Gt. Britain)    
2.12.15   J. Kortelainen (Finland)    
  C. Vriend (Holland)    
83.98   S. Litvinov (Soviet Union)       Sean Egan 70.74  
81.08   1. Nikulin (Soviet Union)    
80.46   Y. Syedikh (Soviet Union)    
79.48   K.H. Riehn (West Germany)    
79.04   Y. Tarasyuk (Soviet Union)    
77.86   G. Shevtov (Soviet Union)    

1,500 Metres      
3.59.31   O. Dvirna (Soviet Union)       Monica Joyce 4.06.69  
3.59.95   Z. Zaitseva (Soviet Union)    
4.01.49   U. Bruns (East Germany)    
4.02.12   T. Guskova (Soviet Union)    
4.02.47   D. Melinte (Romania)    
4.03.13   N. Maresescu (Romania)    

3,000 Metres      
8.26.78   S. Ulmasova (Soviet Union)       Monica Joyce 8.53.24  
8.33.78   M. Puica (Romania)           Louise McGrillen 9.13.78  
8.36.32   T. Guskova (Soviet Union)    
8.36.40   G. Dvirna (Soviet Union)    
8.36.40   T. Kazankina (Soviet Union)    
8.44.50   T. Podznyakova (Soviet Union)    

2.29.02   C. Teske (West Germany)       Carey May 2.38.32  
2.29.43   J. Smith (Gt. Britain)       Mary Purcell 2.38.49  
2.32.55   R. Marchisio (Italy)    
2.34.14   C. Beurskens (Holland)    
2.34.26   1. Kristiansen (Norway)    
2.34.29   M. Hamrin (Sweden)    

71.40   1. Miszynski (GDR)           Patricia Walsh 57.06  
69.90   G. Savinkova (Soviet Union)    
69.40   T. Kristova (Bulgaria)    
68.96   M. Vergova (Bulgaria)    
67.90   P. Sziegaud (Bulgaria)    
67.26   G. Murashova (Soviet Union)