Good things come to those who wait. And on Friday afternoon Denise Toner’s wait was finally over. The Knocks runner won a World Championship gold medal with one-twelfth of a second to spare, ahead of second-placed Olga Koppen from Germany.
The 44-year-old ran her second-ever fastest time in the 800 metres and a season’s best, in Finland.
As the realisation of her achievement started to sink in, her delight was palpable;
“It was just class. I just thought, thank God. I was just so delighted.
“It’s the one medal I’ve never been able to get, aw, I just really wanted it.”
Toner lined up against 11 other runners and ran a superb race, taking the lead with 250 metres to go.
“When you go, you’ve one chance in an 800 metres. If you commit, you just have to go and I tell you, I was just praying for that line to come in the last 20 metres because my legs were just screaming at me.”
As they approached the line, Toner was among four runners in real contention but the Fermanagh woman held on to pip her German counterpart and achieve the ultimate, a world title.
“Some of those girls, the calibre of runners, they’ve so much experience, they’ve been running as seniors and at Commonwealth Games. They’re high-level athletes, so I knew I was going to have to pull it out of the bag.”
Toner will race again on Thursday (tomorrow) in the 1500m where she will endeavour to do the double.
“I think I’ve as good a chance as anyone else in the field” Toner says confidently, “If I run a good race and don’t make any mistakes, if I’m there or thereabouts coming into the last 200 or 150, I think I’ve got as good a kick as anybody else. Look, I’m going to try anyway, it’s my last race of the season, so it’s going to be; die trying here.”
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