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Watch: Sonia O'Sullivan Says What We Were All Thinking As The 10K World Record Is Smashed

Watch: Sonia O'Sullivan Says What We Were All Thinking As The 10K World Record Is Smashed
By Gavan Casey Updated

As Ethiopia's Almaz Ayana annihilated the world record for the Women's 10,000m, an excited Johanne Cantwell turned to Sonia O'Sullivan in the RTÉ studio to get the thoughts and expertise of an Irish Olympic legend.

Considering the crescendo of plaudits from George Hamilton and David Gillick that had come before during RTÉ's commentary of the race, O'Sullivan cut an unsurprisingly sombre figure.

We were all thinking the same thing.

Well, she broke the record by a clear 15 seconds, which is close to 100 metres. That's a world record that many people would have questioned for a long time. [It was set] 23 years ago by the Chinese.

I'm not jumping out of my seat because I still... I dunno, you kind of question it yourself as well and you think, 'how can you do that?' Is it 23 years of knowing more training, having better athletes? How do you have an athlete who can break the world record so easily like that? And she didn't look very tired afterwards.

The truth is that Ayana didn't look tired, and the Ethiopian barely celebrated what on paper is one of the most monumental achievements in the history of athletics. In fact, it was borderline chilling how devoid of emotion she was as she crossed the whitewash and in the immediate aftermath of the race.



It's also worth pointing out that the Kenyan behind her, Vivian Cheryuit, came within a second of smashing the world record herself, yet finished over 15 seconds behind the new Olympic champion; we were perilously close to having two runners break a 23-year-old record in the same race, and yet there was a fissure of space between them.

To some, the sight of Ayana lapping a number of opponents on the final strait would have produced goosebumps. To others, O'Sullivan included, it would have evoked shivers in the midst of the scandals which rocked various sports in the lead-up to these very Games.


Ultimately it's up to yourself to decide which side of the fence you come down on, but O'Sullivan deserves enormous credit for not sitting firmly atop it as many in her position would have.

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