Friday, August 1, 2008

Donohue's Olympic berth stirring excitement among N.J. runners

Erin Donohue
Erin Donohue at Haddonfield High

Donohue's Olympic berth stirring excitement among N.J. runners
· By Vera Stek, Courier News
New Jersey runners will have one of their own to cheer for when the 2008 Olympics track & field competition gets under way next month in Beijing, China.

Erin Donohue, 25, a former Haddonfield Memorial High School standout, will be running the 1500-meter event on Aug. 19 after winning a spot on Team USA when she finished second at the Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore.
Athletes in South Jersey who have been following her career for years and run with her in South Jersey Athletic Club events are cheering already.
"This is the first Olympics in about 20 years I am looking forward to watching because Erin is in it," said Jack Heath, head coach at Gloucester Catholic High School.
"She's a winner just by qualifying — it is extremely difficult. No South Jersey distance runner has qualified for the Olympics since Browning Ross in 1952," said Heath, who was coached by Ross in his own athletic career.
"I ran with Ed (Donohue, Erin's father) at Rowan (when it was Glassboro State) and I stayed friends with Ed and ran with him after college so I saw Erin grow up. I have an article about her that appeared in the local paper when she was about 6 that mentioned a fun run she ran in.
"I can remember Erin asking Ed if she could run a half mile with him and then a mile. She loved to run.
"I remember reading about some of our recent Olympic marathoners who were glad just to be a part of the Olympics and glad just to finish. Erin won't be intimidated in the Olympics and will give 100 percent no matter the conditions."
The coach maintains a blog with information on Erin, other renowned runners and many aspects of running and coaching. See
Harry Berkowitz, a Piscataway runner who grew up in South Jersey and maintains close ties there as a member of the Pinelands Striders and South Jersey Athletic Club, has been following Erin's career for 10 years.
"Erin made the final of the 1500 in last year's World Championships in Japan. That was a surprise to most of us who have followed Erin since she started running in high school.
"I would never have picked her to become a world-class 1500-meter runner. I think it would be a great accomplishment if she made the 1500 final in the Olympics.
"For a 1500-meter runner, she is a big, strong woman. She should be able to handle the rough running that takes place in the Olympics. She had been a good high school basketball player and javelin thrower. So she is a good all-around athlete.
"She's running in one of the events that interests me, and she is from South Jersey. That may never happen again in my lifetime. I am rooting for her. In general I root for all U.S. athletes, especially those from New Jersey," Berkowitz said.
Haddonfield is sending Donohue off to the Olympics with a parade on July 31 and a chance for her friends, former competitors and others to run around the track at her former high school with her.

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