Athletics: O'Rourke ready to take on the World
The prestigious World Cup in a few weeks' time is Derval O'Rourke's next big target following her silver medal-winning heroics in the European Championships in Barcelona.
O'Rourke has been invited to represent Europe at the high-profile event, which takes place in Split, Croatia on September 4-5
"I'm honoured to have been selected on the European team for the World Cup. This is an event I've always wanted to compete in because it bring the very best together in what seems like unique event," said the 100m hurdler after she arrived back in Dublin Airport to a warm and enthusiastic reception.
There is a possibility that the woman who defeated O'Rourke by just two hundredths of a second (12.63 to 12.65) on Saturday, Nevin Yanit of Turkey, may also be in the line-up for the World Cup.
"She is not inclined to race too much but if she is there, well and good, and we will see how it goes," said O'Rourke.
The World Cup is heavily sponsored by VTB Bank, with substantial prize money offered to all eight invited athletes for every event, with $30,000 going to the winner.
Even if Yanit is not in the World Cup, she is likely to be among O'Rourke's opponents for the big Ivo Van Damme Memorial meeting in Brussels on August 27, which attracts an elite field.
O'Rourke now plans to take a short break from training before returning to the running track and the World Cup will give her a fresh target to chase before the end of the season.
"I've never been selected for the World Cup previously and I consider it a real honour and recognition of my achievement in Barcelona," said the Leevale star, who was looking remarkably fresh considering that she had had only a few hours' sleep for the last couple of nights.
"Being part of Team Europe is something completely different for me and considering that several of the world's fastest hurdlers will be there also, it means that I will need to be at my best to make my presence felt.
"I will now have a couple of weeks' relaxation and begin training again for the event and hopefully I can go there with a fresh enthusiasm and desire to compete.
"Getting ready for the Europeans and then focusing every day on being at your best mentally and physically can be quite draining and I've done absolutely nothing else but make sure that, when I went to that starting line last Saturday night, I was 100pc ready to run the best race of my life and, while I did not win it, I think I came very close to doing that."
She reaffirmed her intention to target major events in the future, beginning with the World Championships next year and the Olympic Games in London in 2012.
The new European silver medallist is particularly determined to do herself and her talents justice in the Olympics, because circumstances went against her in Athens in '04, when she became ill, and again in Beijing when she was also below par.
O'Rourke has admitted that it took a big mental effort to come back to full fitness and to full health after Beijing but her coaches, Sean and Terri Cahill, have been phenomenal forces behind that revival of her fortunes.
They sent her to the World Championships in Berlin last year in amazing shape -- she defeated a couple of Olympic medallists to finish fourth in a time of 12.67, breaking her national record that had stood for three years.
"My targets are simple enough, to go into World Championships and Olympics and run my fastest times ever and you cannot ask for any more than that," she said.
"Sometimes it's good enough, sometimes it's not, like in Berlin last year -- when I came home then, I had to walk to the long-term car park on my own, so this is quite a contrast."