Cork City Sports Still Happy Home for
7 July 2004
In a way the Cork City Sports are
the only thing still consistent in Sonia
O'Sullivan's career. Ever since she first flaunted that great talent
as a 17-year-old, O'Sullivan has never run badly on her home ground.
more than ever, Cork helps keep her confidence intact, the last
certainty along her long and winding roads to glory.
Take Saturday's victory in the 5,000 metres. Just six days after the
run in Gateshead, the dial that is measuring her form in the
the Athens Olympics shifted away from red. It wasn't a gold-rush
performance, but it certainly keeps the dream alive.
What is now clear is that we won't be convinced of O'Sullivan's true
Olympic prospects until the Games themselves. From here she goes to
for some training and some heat, taking in a 3,000-metre race on
week. She'll probably run the Zurich Golden League on August 6th,
unlikely to see her in another world-class 5,000 metres before
But that dial will have to keep rising if she is to be a medal
the night of August 23rd.
Cork, she later explained, was treated like an Olympic qualifying
doing enough on the day but testing areas that will matter when
count. Like running her last lap in 65.7 seconds, and the last 200
in a fraction over 30 seconds.
"Well, I came here very relaxed," she said, "and that's when I run
So I just have to bring that with me now wherever I go from here,
things like a hard training run. But a lot of it is just about
time now. I don't really need to get much fitter. It's just about
sharpening up a little."
The silver medallist from Sydney controlled things throughout. Alena
Samokhvalova of Russian pressed the pace from before halfway, but
laps remaining O'Sullivan surged ahead. The Russian chased in vain,
finishing 18 seconds down. Yet O'Sullivan still finished with real
conviction, and her time of 15:15.95 was comforting under the
"I was a bit surprised to see the Russian going so fast," she added.
felt very relaxed, and decided I'd pass her and see what happens. I
decided to run that last 200 metres as fast as I could. And today
partly about reminding myself it was still there, because I haven't
practising it too much.
"And that's what I do need to work on over the next few weeks. But I
definitely feel the speed is still there. That wasn't the fastest
it's getting there."
It's just over six weeks now before O'Sullivan wants to hit that
Athens, but she's being careful not simply to repeat the final
Sydney. And it's worth recalling that four years ago her form was
"The training I've been doing is similar. But you try not to compare
much, because circumstances change, and it's very difficult to try
repeat what you did before."
It's also good to see O'Sullivan's running partners running well,
indicates a positive mindset in the Nic Bideau training camp. And
Mottram looked superb in the 1,500 metres, especially the way he
over the last 300 metres, winning in 3:41.60. Colin Costello, still
junior, was in front at the bell and finished best of the Irish,
Earlier there was a beautifully timed run by Freda Davoren in the
metres. The Kerrywoman ran bravely and deserved her win, in 4:13.43.
she only just held off the fast-finishing Rene Kalmer of South
Sinéad Delahunty looked her old self in fifth (4:14.25).
There was a true international feel to the men's 800 metres, and the
too that James Nolan could bring another home victory. The tactics
help, but a class apart anyway was Glody Dube of Botswana, seventh
Sydney, who clocked 1:48.66.
Nolan looked a little strained to run 1:50 for seventh, but he was
the race to prepare for a fast 1,500 metres in Lausanne tomorrow.
"To be honest, that my hamstring didn't tear is the only good thing
that," he said. "It's been causing big problems in the last few
weeks. If I
can just get rid of that pain I'll be fine."
Adrian O'Dwyer as usual entertained the crowd in the high jump,
2.21 metres before progressing to attempt 2.31 - which would have
his recent Irish record. For now though that was a leap too high.
Gary Ryan stood next to the barrier of the Mardyke track, the sweat
face diluted by rain, his heart still racing. Moments earlier he'd
that barrier in frustration. Two fine sprint victories, and yet
hasn't found what he's looking for.
The wet track and the cool chill had added to his task, so it was
surprising when his 20.78 seconds winning time over 200 metres fell
of the 20.59 needed for Athens. Earlier, Ryan had won the 100 metres
10.35, equalling the Irish record held by Paul Brizzel. But with the
deadline for Olympic qualification closed as of midnight on
seemed like the end of the road.
But only yesterday came the first test of that deadline. At a
California, Nicky Sweeney - already a veteran of three Olympics -
discus 64.12 metres, just beyond the 64 metres needed for Athens.
Sweeney (38), who has a best of 67.89 from five years ago, came out
retirement this season with that goal in mind and should now find
Ryan meanwhile is chasing his third Olympics. "Things have been
together the last week or so," said the 32-year-old. "June was
totally written off because of injury. And I just haven't had the
luck. But I think I tried too hard today, especially because of the
Ryan will press on regardless, hoping the Olympic Council of Ireland
still see some sense in his quest. "It's more about my own pride
worked very hard for it, and at this stage of my career I want to
on the things that I should have done in the past.
"I've spent a lot of money, a lot of time, and a lot of effort
trying to do
things right. And I will still prepare for the next few weeks with
on my mind.
"But the fact is the standards are ridiculously high now, and if
achieves it, I think we should be rewarding them. Otherwise what's
point of the sport? You may as well shoot it dead, and let the Tim
Montgomerys of the world take it over."
Ryan was pressed hard for the 200-metre win by Paul Hession, another
half dozen or so athletes still within touching distance of
But the 400 metre hopefuls aren't enjoying the best of times, with
Daly's 47.29 when taking third well short of the 45.55 needed. And
another meeting, in San Sebastian, Gareth Turnbull (1,500 metres)
Shinkins (400 metres) fell well short of their desired times.
So for now then, the number of Irish athletes heading to Athens
14 - with the team due to be named on Wednesday.
With thanks to Ian O'Riordan of the Irish Times