Selected by Sonia O’Sullivan

My accreditation pass from the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta reminds me of when I failed to live up to all expectations based on my achievements up to that point, including being the reigning world champion over 5000m.

The following year, I tried to erase the failure at the World Championships but once again came up short because I was trying too hard to overcome the failure and prove that I was still a great athlete. It was only after this disappointment in 1997 that I accepted the failure that occurred in Atlanta the year before and took the decision to walk away from everything in my past, whether good or bad. This was when I was able to shut the door and start all over again and realise that failure may be the end of one chapter in your life but it doesn’t mean that you will never be successful again. (Three years later, in 2000, Sonia O’Sullivan took home the silver medal in the Sydney Olympics in the 5000m, becoming the first Irish woman to win an Olympic medal in athletics).

About Sonia O’Sullivan

Sonia O’Sullivan was born in Cobh, County Cork, where she spent many years running around the hills before embarking on an athletics scholarship at Villanova University, in Pennsylvania, USA. She graduated in 1992 with a degree in accountancy ahead of her first Olympic Games in Barcelona. In Barcelona Sonia established herself on the athletics scene, finishing in 4th place over 3000m. This was the launch pad of a very successful athletics career that saw her compete in four Olympic Games, including a silver medal winning performance in Sydney over 5000m in 2000. The Olympic silver medal capped a string of successes by Sonia, which includes three World Championship gold medals, three European Championship gold medals, and four world records. Sonia still holds the world record over 2000m, along with every Irish record in the books over distances ranging from 800m to half marathon. She lives in Melbourne, Australia with her daughters Ciara and Sophie.