Reactions and reason for Derval O’Rourke’s retirement

We brought you news on Monday of Derval O’Rourke’s retirement from the world of International Athletics and ever since tributes to the Cork athlete have been pouring in from not only stars of track and field but many other sports too and from sporting bodies at home and abroad.
Writing in the ‘ Irish Examiner’ on Tuesday Derval explained why she had now quit the sport prior to the 2014 Europeans:-
” I thought long and hard and realised I could still go to Zurich and make the final if everything went right but winning would be almost impossible. Recognising this fact was far more distressing than my surgery last year. The thought of making it to Zurich without a realistic shot at winning made me incredibly sad. I cried. I didn’t want to go and not have a chance. I have two European outdoor silver medals, I don’t want to make up the numbers.


For better or worse, my attitude has always been that I run the big races to win, I never stand on the line aiming for less.

At every championship, I’ve aimed to win. If winning didn’t work out I knew I’d be damn close. Last year at the European Indoor championships I ran to win and I was one hundredth of a second off gold. That’s damn close”.

On ‘ why retire now and not next year? ‘ Derval had this to say:

“Well at some point, I have to retire. It’s never going to be easy, it will always hurt and this juncture seems like a good time to bite the bullet. The sacrifices involved in pursuing a track career are huge but all of them have been worthwhile. At this stage, I have to look at the bigger picture and decide what is best for me long term.

As cold as it seems, I needed to do a cost-benefit analysis of staying in the sport. The next big challenge would be European Indoors next year and while I believe I could do really well there, it doesn’t feel like I can justify the costs of staying in the sport another season.

At 33, I have to think longer term and take care of all aspects of my life.

At the moment, my feelings about the decision are mixed.

I’m sad to walk away but I’m hugely proud of the things I achieved.

I’m also leaving still madly in love with the sport, something that may change if I tried to compete below par. I want to remember all the reasons why it’s awesome. I still have that pure joy that running brings.

 The Leevale AC hurdler  paid tribute to those who had helped her become one of Ireland’s all time greats on the athletics tracks round the world among them :

“My family enabled me to set off on this path chasing my dreams and I’m really grateful for that. My husband Peter has been my biggest supporter in the past few years, I’m lucky to have him.

Since 2005, Sean and Terrie Cahill have coached me, they basically turned my dreams and ambitions into reality. It seems unfair to have my name alone alongside the medals and records when they were such a massive part of every single one. Their coaching and high performance expertise has been phenomenal and after spending a decade racing everywhere in the world, I know they are truly the best out there. I’m incredibly grateful for having them in my corner, not just in running but in life.

There is so much more I could write but for now, I hope I’ve shed some light on my decision.

The decision is still bittersweet and I’m letting it settle in my head. A massive thank you to everyone for all the support throughout my career, it’s very humbling to have had so many people be so supportive and kind to me.

Soon, I’ll begin to weigh up my options and think about the plan from here. I’ve lots of different areas of interest and I’ve always tried to keep up my interests off the track. At the back of my mind I know I had to set myself up for this day, so hopefully I’ll figure out the next phase.

I had no idea what I would gain from the sport when I started out. Becoming world champion and winning four European medals has been more than I hoped. As for the one that got away, I’ve been at three Olympic Games and my only tinge of regret is never nailing an Olympic performance. But it’s not a fairytale, it’s sport and it’s been amazing” .


Just a small sample of the tweets and tributes that have poured in since Derval’s decision was announced:

Katie Taylor: Congrats on an amazing career @DervalORourke, it’s been inspiring to watch.

Olympic gold medallist Katie Taylor (@KatieTaylor)

Paddy Barnes: @DervalORourke best of luck in whatever lies ahead for you!

Two-time Olympic medallist Paddy Barnes (@paddyb_ireland)

RTÉ’s Jacqui Hurley (@jacquihurley):

There really hasn’t been a better Irish athlete to watch than @DervalORourke Exceptional on world stage, power, class & a great interviewee.

Irish race walking ace Colin Griffin (@colingriffin):

Best wishes to @DervalORourke in her retirement. One of Ireland’s best championship performers & a great ambassador for the sport #athletics

Irish sprint hurdler Sarah Lavin (@sarahlavin)

Thanks @DervalORourke for everything you have done for the sport and the event. Always will be a hero and inspiration!

Irish 400m champion  David Gillick (@DavidGillick) :

Congratulations 2 @DervalORourke on a brilliant career. She has been a great ambassador for women’s sport and I’m sure will continue to be.


Congrats on an amazing career @DervalORourke ! So many highlights!! Good luck for the future! #truechampion”
and from TV Sports Presenter Sinéad Kissane ‏@sineadkissane 

All the best to Derval O’Rourke. Was in Gothenburg & Barcelona when she won Euro silver. The greater the pressure, the greater the display

Finally this from the Irish Sports Council:

“The Irish Sports Council congratulates Derval on her fantastic career and wishes her the very best in her retirement. Derval was one of the outstanding Irish athletes of her generation and has had a great career, one we were proud to support. The former World Champion, multiple Irish record holder and three time Olympian has been one of Ireland’s greatest ever championships athletes, winning medals and breaking records in the most competitive environments.

Derval O’Rourke Achievements

Gold – 60m Hurdles – World Indoor Championships 2006 (Moscow)
Silver – 100m Hurdles – European Championships 2006 (Gothenburg)
Silver – 100m Hurdles – European Championships 2010 (Barcelona)
Bronze – 60m Hurdles – European Indoor Championships 2009 (Turin)
Bronze – 60m Hurdles – European Indoor Championships 2013 (Gothenburg)
Fourth – 100m Hurdles – World Championships 2009 (Berlin)
Three-time Irish Olympian – Athens 2004, Beijing 2008, London 2012
Represented Europe at the IAAF Continental Cup in 2010
Irish Senior Record Holder –
50m Hurdles Indoor (6.80 – Lievin 2006)
60m Hurdles Indoor (7.84 – Moscow 2006)
100m Hurdles Outdoor (12.65 – Barcelona 2010)


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