‘You don’t stop’: Tiernan willed himself to finish after 10,000m collapse

Patrick Tiernan said he never thought of stopping. You don’t come this far to fall that short.

Three times, the 10,000-metre runner fell in his final lap. Three times, he got up again. He stagger-shuffled to the line. Even in an empty stadium he could draw applause.

Patrick Tiernan (left) in the men’s 10,000 on Friday night.Credit:Getty Images

The morning after one of the gutsiest performances by an Australian witnessed on the track at the Olympics, Tiernan was frustrated and slightly embarrassed.

It was not how he wanted people to remember his race.

“It’s the Olympics, we have been waiting for this for five years now and I got close. I think it was about 180 [to go] when I collapsed for the first time and you don’t stop when you have only got 180 metres to go and at the time I didn’t think that I was completely done.

“I just thought I will get back up and then it happened again and I knew I was in trouble but at that point you are so close you have to will yourself across the line.

“Frustration. It’s a long way to come to fall, literally, fall short of your goal. In my head I was just like, really? But at that point you have to get up and try and keep going.

“This isn’t the first time something like this has happened so it was frustrating in that regard but you get across the line then deal with this stuff again later.

“It’s an honour to represent Australia and regardless of whether it is a performance I am pleased with or not, you still have to get across that line and finish that race and for me being so close to that finish line it was something that not only I could do but I needed to do,” Tiernan said after his extraordinary performance that drew worldwide admiration and praise for his guts.

He still finished the race, in 19th place and his time of 28 minutes, 35.06 seconds was his best of the season. Whether he remembers the race fondly, it was a memorable performance that resonated for his naked determination to finish. It went viral on social media.

“It’s interesting to me because it is not the sort of publicity that I was hoping I would be getting after this race,” Tiernan said.

“It doesn’t feel like anything heroic to me – I fell a bit short of where I would like to be. I haven’t really had a chance to process that or look into that. I am glad it has struck a chord with a few people.”

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