TWENTY years after her Olympic silver medal-winning performance in the 5,000 metres at the Sydney Olympics, Cobh’s Sonia O’Sullivan is making the most of her extended break back home.
This year she was able to cherish that day for the very first time in the harbour town with family, friends and runners as a special 3K run in aid of Cobh Community Hospital took place in association with Eurospar and with the help of Ballymore Cobh AC.
“Yes it was fabulous to have everybody here to celebrate the memory,” commented Sonia about the event that marked her success on September 25, 2000.
“Being honest, some years it can almost slip by, but 20 years on it’s nice to stop and reflect and talk to people who would have seen the race from lots of different perspectives and share their stories with me too.
“I suppose with no Olympic Games this year, it was an opportunity to relive and appreciate what had happened in the past. It just seems like an appropriate time to do it.
“It’s amazing to have people here in Cobh with me who were also in the Stadium in Sydney 20 years ago.”
Whilst on her regular trips back to Ireland, Sonia has always connected with her roots in athletics.
In recent weeks, she has competed both in the East Cork Road Championships in Ballynoe and in the Cross Country Championships in Conna.
“It has been just brilliant — I never thought I would be back running in the local championships again.
“Like many people I went through a few phases myself after retiring from international competition. I had to learn how to enjoy running again and then realise why I was running.
“Now I am actually competing again — it’s very much a case of adjusting the goalposts and the levels of expectations.
“It’s great to be able to join so many people who are running these days. The only reason I took part was to be part of the Ballymore teams and to be able to help them out — we even won a gold medal on a day in cross country.
“I actually had won a silver and bronze previously in East Cork cross country, so the gold will complete the set. At this stage I have started to collect the medals again!”
Finally, a wider note, Sonia feels the prospects of next year’s Olympic Games going ahead as planned are very much up in the air.
“The athletes will continue to train and challenge themselves and the likelihood is the Olympics may happen in some format, but not as we know it.
“Hopefully, we will have some medical advancements before the Games come around.”