Sonia O’Sullivan thoughts on Olympic issues

At the time of writing some 41 Irish sports stars have already achieved the relevant qualification standard for the 2012 Olympic Games. The final selection rests with the Olympic Council of Ireland who will clearly be guided by each sports own National Governing Body.

For at least one athlete though there will be huge disappointment. That fateful decision will have to be taken by
Athletics Ireland since the Women’s Marathon has already produced four fine runners who have achieved the A
Standard – thus one will have to be ‘left at home’ since no country is allowed more than three entries in any one event.

Caitriona Jennings is the most recent to secure the ‘A’ standard – in Rotterdam last month – she has the second quickest time of the quartet and is pleased she won’t have as long to wait to find out if she’s made London 2012.

On ‘ iTalk Sport’ Caitriona spoke of her hopes and fears whilst Ireland’s Chef de Mission, Sonia O’Sullivan also contributed to the discussion. This is what they had to say on the news that Athletics Ireland will bring forward their selection to May 21st.

Ireland have only ever had five female participants in the event until this year when Jennings, Ava Hutchinson, Maria McCambridge & Linda Byrne have all made the mark, only three will be chosen. The decision to bring forward the selection has also been welcomed by Sonia O’Sullivan.

Is Caitriona confident she’ll be picked for London 2012?
“Well I think confident would be an overstatement, but I’d like to think that I’m in with a good chance. Obviously it’s going to be very difficult for the person left behind. At the moment, as it stands, although I have the second fastest time…times aren’t listed as one of the criteria.

To achieve the standard, you have to have a certain amount of belief in yourself, and I believe I can certainly run faster. Rotterdam was my second marathon. But I’m definitely confident that I can run faster, and I’d like to think that I deserve a place on that team”.

Who should go?
“Linda Byrne, who won the national championships in the Dublin marathon last October, she also achieved the standard during that marathon. I think she definitely should be on the team”.

The thoughts of Sonia O’Sullivan, speaking from her home in Melbourne:

On the marathon situation:
“It’s probably the first time ever that Ireland has had to make a decision like this in athletics. It just shows you the inspiration that London has given the people to get out there, and try really hard to qualify.

It’s just a shame that you do have to leave one at home, but hopefully there may be a chance there for whoever doesn’t get to go, to try and run in the 10,000 metres, if they get the right race

The four girls have shown that if you do try a bit harder, and you do go out and make the London Olympics your target and focus, you can actually get results”
Will London prove to be her own most enjoyable Olympics?:

“I’m sure I will enjoy it. I’ll have a great time and I’m sure the team will be fantastic, but I wouldn’t say it will be the most enjoyable.

For me, Barcelona and Sydney would be the ones I enjoyed the most. I don’t think anything could top them.

As much as I am part of a team, and leading team Ireland this year, there’s nothing like getting out there on the track and competing. You can’t really match that with anything, but I do believe that, to lead the team in London this year… It’s the best job I can have”.

What of Katie Taylor’s chances?:

“I know she’s competing next week at the World championships. I’m sure it will be a huge relief for her to get through the qualifying, and to be on the team. I think that’s her biggest worry at the moment. I’m sure that it will be a huge pressure off her shoulders, to actually be on the team.

There is a lot of expectation on her, but there has been in the past and she’s repeated good form to become World champion and European Champion. It depends if there are any surprises out there, and that’s what can throw you off, when everything has been going so smoothly all along”.

What advice would she give to Ireland’s Olympians?:

“Give yourself the time to get to the Village, to check out your venue, and to just take everything in. You need to have a couple of extra days to do that.

Then set yourself into your normal routine, because you don’t want to come in there the day before your competition, and
all of a sudden, you’re in a massive circus, which is what the Olympics are.

There’s so much going on every day, and you’re just a small piece in the jigsaw puzzle.”


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