Sonia thrilled to lose record as she backs Galligan to go even lower
SONIA O'SULLIVAN has predicted that the new Irish 800m record will be beaten again this season, possibly by current holder Rose-Anne Galligan.
The Kildare athlete broke O'Sullivan's 19-year-old record at the London Olympics Anniversary Meet on Friday night. O'Sullivan, admits to a sense of relief that the record has finally been broken – "it shouldn't have stayed so long and shows some progress at least by Irish athletes" – and hopes it will inspire Galligan, and others, to test themselves even more.
Galligan's time of 2:00.58 not only improved her PB (2:01.07) but broke O'Sullivan's 2:00.69 record set in 1994. O'Sullivan has now challenged Ireland's 800m runners to go on and break the two-minute barrier for 800m.
"Rose-Anne will now be able to really go for that two-minute barrier because she has the comfort of the record," said O'Sullivan.
O'Sullivan has been waiting anxiously for the 800m record to be broken – "it's one of the distances I always felt I should have done better in" – and believes her 2,000m Irish record should also be targeted.
"I was lucky to ever hold the 800m record. I only took it from Caroline O'Shea by one hundredth of a second and it's amazing that it lasted so long.
"There is every chance the record will be broken again this year. Rose-Anne's run may not open the floodgates but it might, at least, turn into a fast-flowing river!"
Friday night's pace was set by Kerry's Laura Crowe, who O'Sullivan has been helping in an official capacity by securing her places in meetings around Europe, and the Cobh legend acknowledged that when the news of the Irish record reached her at her base in Australia, she was surprised.
"It is a surreal experience to wake up to the news that such a long-standing record has been broken overnight!" she said.
"Hopefully now that it's been broken it will encourage more athletes and will result in progress being made and, hopefully, an Irish female finally breaking two minutes for the 800m."
The first sub-two minute 800m by an Irish athlete cannot be too far away, O'Sullivan hopes – "I read recently that an 18-year-old English girl ran 1:59.00 ... surely that should inspire Irish athletes" – and believes such an achievement would be wonders for the sport.
"I always wanted to run below two minutes for 800m. It will be like the first sub-four-minute mile. If one Irish person can do it, others will follow," she said.
O'Sullivan still holds nine Irish records from 1,500m up to the half-marathon.