Sonia O'Sullivan of Ireland wins the Great South Run (Mark Shearman) © Copyright
General News Dublin, Ireland

O'Sullivan to begin career wind down in Dublin 10km on Sunday

Sonia O'Sullivan will take the first step in winding down a glittering international career at the Great BUPA Ireland Run on Sunday (15).

The Sydney Olympic 5000 metres silver medallist is contesting her last race on Irish roads at the 10 kilometres event she helped create in Dublin.

The Republic of Ireland's greatest sportswoman pulls no punches and, although she will never quit running - she is planning a marathon - the point is looming when she will no longer be competitive and it is time to look to a second career.

O'Sullivan said: "I now find sessions very hard and believe that the end is near at world class level. But until then, I plan getting the best out of myself. I could say it might be December - or then it might be this time next year. I just don't know. For the moment I'm just planning to compete, but not at such a high level."

O'Sullivan - World 5000m champion in 1995 - revealed she is planning a marathon in the autumn but ruled out competing at next year's Olympic Games in Beijing.

She said: "I'd definitely like to run a marathon this year. I've ran out of pace for everything else. At the moment I'm looking after the summer, probably September or October. I definitely want to run the A standard, but not necessarily with the ambition of going to the Olympics. At the moment I would say no."

'No' to veteran circuit

O'Sullivan also ruled out competing on the highly popular veteran circuit where excellent prize money is offered, particularly in the United States.

"No, that's not for me, I'm not going to start rushing around the world all over again," said the USA-college educated athlete.

O'Sullivan is best remembered for her track and cross country achievements - she won the 1995 World 5000m title and achieved a unique world cross long and short course double three years later - but is also an established road runner.

A remarkable 2002 season saw O'Sullivan win the BUPA Great North Run, and step down in distance to break set the unofficial World best for 10 miles, a few weeks later.

Tulu challenge

O'Sullivan admitted: "I'm feeling a little bit nervous about Sunday and I really want to run well, particularly as it is my last race here.

"But I'll take whatever result I get."

The Irishwoman knows two-time Olympic 10,000m gold-medallist Derartu Tulu of Ethiopia will offer a tough challenge.

Tulu is competing for the first time since having a baby last autumn, which could open the door for Hatti Dean to upset both her more experienced opponents.

The British international finished a credible 14th at last month's World Cross Country Championships and has a perfect opportunity to enhance her reputation.

Men's race in Dublin

Craig Mottram will be chasing a fifth successive victory in the men's race, although the Australian is under no illusions this will be the most testing defence of his title.

Abraham Chebii will prove a massive threat and the Kenyan proved he is well prepared to make a strong challenge after speeding to a time of 28:02 in Switzerland last Tuesday.

He will be joined by Spain's 2002 European 10,000m gold-medallist Jose Manuel Martinez and Ukraine's Sergiy Lebid, five times crowned the European cross country champion.

Mottram said: "It's going to be the toughest race I've had in Dublin, but I'm looking forward to it."

"Chebii's a fantastic 3000m and 5000m runner on the track and has a blistering finish in the last 400m. He also proved he can run over 10K with his display in Dongio the other night. But I plan putting my head down and going for it - I'm that kind of guy.

"I suppose I have an advantage, because I know the course and that's in my favour. It's not an easy one, a bit hilly and the weather can sometimes be cold and chilly."

David Martin (Press Association) for the IAAF