By the time the race started it was close to 40 degrees and even hotter later in the afternoon. Photograph:  Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

Peek behind the scenes shows the level of preparation required for top level sport

 Carla Suarez Navarro leaves the court at 1.40am after losing against Caroline Wozniacki at the Australian Open. Photograph: Mark Cristino/EPA

I’m not a morning person and all this late night Australian Open tennis doesn’t help

The Running Reaper symbolises the negative voice that stops you in your tracks, or slows you down.

Sometimes you have to take a few steps backwards to appreciate all you have

“Wherever I go it’s equally important to have a good coffee spot as well as a good training venue. They go hand in hand.”

Running, like golf, is a sport you can play forever no matter what level you are at

“I can deal with anything in the confines of the Falls Creek mountain village for our two-week stay.”

Annual ritual for 20 years as we leave the tree and decorations and head for the hills

Paul Robinson running the fastest mile on the Antarctic continent. Photograph: Antarctic Ice Marathon

From running in the Antartic to the Volvo Ocean Race, elite athletes like to go further

Stephen Roche: scaled the heights of the sport with his victory in the Tour de France.  Photograph: Boris Horvat/AFP/Getty

Just like in athletics, there was a time when Irish cyclists figured at the top of their sport

'The world of nutrition is constantly changing, especially with the arrival of the so-called 'superfoods' that we sometimes struggle to pronounce.' Photograph: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Food is primary fuel for training, recovery, and for making sure you stay as healthy as possible

John Treacy finishing  second  in the  marathon  at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. Photograph: Tony Duffy/Getty Images

In Irish athletics alone throughout the 1980s we were laden down with constant success

 WBA  world lightweight champion Katie Taylor during her  homecoming press conference at the Irish Film Institute in Dublin. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Katie has transformed herself from Rio to being greater than she has been before

Sonia O’Sullivan on her way to finishing second in the 1500m at the 1993 World Championships in Stuttgart. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Latest revelation of Chinese athletes doping confirms I was the best in the world in 1993

 Competitors start in the Half-Marathon during the 2017 Melbourne Marathon in Australia. Photograph:  Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Organisers of the Melbourne Marathon could have learned from famous east Cork race

Richmond Tigers celebrate with the the AFL Premiership Cup after winning the 2017 AFL Grand Final against the Adelaide Crows at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Photograph: Scott Barbour/AFL Media/Getty

Success of Irish rowers now reminds me of our athletes’ inspirational feats in the 80s

Mayo’s  Sarah Rowe  is challenged by Dublin’s  Lauren Magee and Martha Byrne. The speed, the skill, the passion of the game thrilled the 46,286 fans in Croke Park.  Photograph:  Cody Glenn/Sportsfile

Dublin and Mayo produced a great occasion at Croke Park in front of a huge crowd

Dublin captain Stephen Cluxton lifting the Sam Maguire. For all their apparent advantages, Dublin were just that bit craftier, using all their experience to hang on by their fingertips. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

There has always been the issue in sport of funding and the buying of success

The walk towards Bull Island in Clontarf. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

The marker for me has always been running, because it affects so many decisions in my life

McGregor versus Mayweather  was a white elephant that somehow grabbed the attention of the public, even of those who claimed to have no interest.  Photograph:  Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Big difference between pure sport and the exploitation of sport and fans for money 

A dejected Ciara Mageean after she finished 13th in her heat at the World Championships in London. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

It makes no sense to accept something less than perfect when representing your country

I was left in disbelief when Botswana runner Isaac Makwala was denied  the chance to line up in the 400m final. Photograph: John Walton/PA Wire.

IAAF call not to allow Isaac Makwala compete in the 400m final defied belief

Sonia O’Sullivan on her way to taking silver in the 1500m at the World Championships in Stuttgart in 1993. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

It’s good news that a number of athletes will be upgraded before World Championships

Rachel (8), Lucy (5) and Kate Dowling (9) with Olympian Sonia O’Sullivan who will lead out the Great Pink Run, which comes for the first time to a second location, Kilkenny Castle Park, on Sunday,  September 10th,  the day after the Dublin run. To register go to  Photograph:  Pat Moore

‘If you can meet up with friends to prepare for an event, it can be so much easier’

 Medalists John Fitzsimons (bronze in the men’s 800m)  Gina Akpe-Moses (gold in women’s 100m) and Michaela Walsh (bronze in the Hammer) at the homecoming of the Irish team from the European Athletics Under-20 Championships in Italy. Photograph: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Likes of John Fitzsimons, Gina Apke-Moses and Michaela Walsh on the right track

 Sonia O’Sullivan in second place behind Shalene Flanagan in the women’s  3, 000 metres in 2005.  Photograph:  Neil Danton/Inpho

Events like the Cork City Sports are a chance to get trackside and close to the action

South Africa’s Caster Semenya continues to dominate the world of women’s 800 metre running. Photograph:  Karim Jaafar/AFP/Getty Images

CAS must make decision in light of study on women with high testosterone levels

 Catherina McKiernan  and Sonia O’Sullivan at   the inaugural Olympic Council of Ireland Awards night held in the Dean Hotel in Dublin. Photograph:  Matt Browne/Sportsfile

Daunting 180km cycle on undulating terrain around the Ring Of Kerry a huge challenge

Seeing Cork beat Waterford made home feel that bit closer. Photo: Oisin Keniry/Inpho

No matter how often you do it, the journey between Australia and Ireland gets no easier

 Sonia O’’Sullivan of Ireland celebrates winning the mile run in 2004 at the IAAF/Mobil Bislett Games in Oslo, Norway. Photograph:  Mike Hewit/llsport

It’s good to see Irish athletes like Ciara Mageean putting some marks on the board

Síofra Cléirigh Büttner: this  will be the third year she  will represent Villanova at the prestigious NCAA championships. Photograph: Karen Delvoije/Inpho

Síofra Cléirigh Büttner bidding to make outdoor final at NCAA Championships

There is no greater feeling than the one you get when you return home after a run.

Cycling and swimming are satisfying but they don’t quite reach that runners’ ‘high’

Cork’s Shane Kingston celebrates his team’s first goal against Tipperary  at Semple Stadium. Cork will now believe anything is possible this season. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Hurlers’ victory just the latest reminder of how sports-mad county relishes success

Sonia O’Sullivan: Training  becomes a lifelong habit, pulling on the training gear and runners first thing in the morning. Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty Images

Busy keeping busy: Cycling and motherhood have helped to fill the place of running

 Eliud Kipchoge  clocking a time of 2:00.24 in a marathon event in Monza, north of Milan. Kipchoge was attempting to become the first athlete to run under two hours and missed his goal by just 25 seconds. Photograph: EPA/Nike

Despite the controlled environment, Eliud Kipchoge’s run still a considerable feat

 Paula Radcliffe  starting the London Marathon of 2003 in which she set her world record time  of 2:15:25. Photograph:  Christopher Lee/Getty Images

Some thorny issues remain but something must be done to restore sport’s credibility

Sonia O’Sullivan with her two daughters Ciara and Sophie in 2002. Photograph: Patrick Bolger/Inpho

Just over a year after Ciara was born, I won my Olympic silver medal in Sydney

Sonia O’Sullivan: “We ride along in pairs, holding on to that wheel in front.” Photograph: Getty Images

‘You don’t want to let go, knowing that wheel in front of you makes for 30% less effort’

Kenya’s Jemima Jelagat Sumgong reacting during the podium ceremony of the Women’s Marathon during the Rio Olympicas at Sambodromo in Rio de Janeiro. She has now tested positive for banned substance EPO. Photograph: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty

Olympic marathon champion Jemima Sumsong just the latest to be caught doping

Sophie O’Sullivan crosses the finishing line in first place during the Australian U-17 championships in Sydney.

Retracing my steps around Sydney Olympic Park with my daughter proves special

Sonia O’Sullivan: ‘I find myself trying to find ways to get better at swimming and cycling’. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

‘I wonder where amateur athletes get their professional levels of motivation’

I get the sense the men don’t like being passed by a woman. As soon as I go past, it’s as if they wake up, race past, only to be passed again on the next hill.

Passing men during a group cycle seems to awaken their competitive nature

Ireland’s Ciara Mageean during 1,500m finl at the  European Indoor Athletics Championships at  Kombank Arena, Belgrade, Serbia. Photograph: Inpho

We can not have realistic medal hopes when it’s not evident this is currently achievable

Sonia O’Sullivan winning the Women’s  Cross Country Championships at Killenaule, Tipperary in 1987. Photograph: Maurice O’Mahony

'It’s good to enjoy the fast hours, but also good to appreciate what you have now'

Athletes in action  at the Sport Ireland National Indoor Arena in Abbotstown, Dublin, last weekend. Photograph: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

With National Indoor Arena, poor facilities for athletes can’t be used as excuse any more

It’s a lot easier to sweat when you’re running and  a little more difficult when you’re walking

With all fads we can forget that cleansing body from inside out is great way to feel good

 Usain Bolt in action at the Nitro Athletics event at Lakeside Stadium Melbourne. The new sports and entertainment series set to revolutionise track and field. Photograph: Asanka Brendon Ratnayake/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Excitement of new format palpable in Melbourne, especially among the young fans

 Australia’s Cameron Meyer   sprints for the line after breaking away in the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road  in Geelong. Photograph: Mal Fairclough/AFP/Getty

Thankfully my knee held up well as I got an inkling of what professional cyclists endure

Sonia with her fellow ‘Celebrity MasterChef’ contestants, from left: Samantha Mumba, Mundy, Holly Carpenter and Simon Delaney. Photography Ruth Medjber

It was like competing in a different sport, one I wasn’t nearly as familiar with as I thought

Robert Heffernan during the 50km walk in the 2012 Olympic Games in London. He was eventually upgraded to a bronze medal. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Thomas Barr and Rob Heffernan our leading hopes in World Athletic Championships

Team Ireland’s chef de mission Sonia O’Sullivan during the London  Olympic Games in 2010. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Working in OCI before London Games was rewarding but I felt isolated in build-up to Rio

Training at Australia’s high altitude centre in Falls Creek. Photograph: Mark Dadswell/Getty Images

Australia’s high altitude centre in Falls Creek attracts many elite athletes in early January

Cork dual stars Briege Corkery and Rena Buckley were the 2015 joint winners of The Irish Times/Sport Ireland Sportswoman of the Year Award 2015’. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Attending The Irish Times/Sport Ireland women’s sports awards for the first time

Wilson’s Promontory: “This is the real beauty of such an adventure, to finally see your destination on the horizon.” Photograph: Fairfax Media via Getty Images

‘Thinking back now, I wonder why it took me so long to go walkabout in Australia like this’

Marcus O’Sullivan, right, battles it out with  Steve Ovett  of Great Britain  during the 1500 Metres  at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.  Photograph:  Tony Duffy/Allsport

Cork man richly deserving of his Athletics Ireland Hall of Fame award

Katie Taylor will begin her pro career at Wembley Arena. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Motivation is the key for Katie Taylor as she seeks to break new ground in pro boxing

 Conor McGregor  celebrates after defeating Eddie Alvarez.  It just seems that in MMA circles there is as much focus on the entertainment as the athleticism required.  Photograph:  Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

MMA would not be my cup of tea but the enigmatic Irishman is an engaging figure

Ireland’s Joey Carbery (22) celebrates with Josh van der Flier after Ireland’s victory over New Zealand in Chicago.  Photograph: Kamil Krzaczynski/AP

Achievement of our rugby heroes created a feelgood factor for Irish all over the world

Merion Golf Club  in  Pennsylvania: “This was a regular venue for secret training on Mondays back in my Villanova days.” Photograph: Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

Watching racehorses training always adds extra little bit of energy to the morning run

Sonia O’Sullivan wins the 2000 Dublin City Marathon. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho.

I can fully understand what it is that draws so many people to the 26-mile run

Sonia O’Sullivan: “Dan Carter certainly sounds convinced he was doing no wrong by taking a corticosteroid injection.” Photograph: Afp

Love of sport for its purity, natural ability and talent in athletes is being diminished

I only met Lance once, briefly, at the start of the 2008 Boston Marathon, when someone asked could they take a photo.

Disgraced cyclist’s visit to Dublin for a ‘fireside chat’ in RDS should be interesting

Western Bulldogs players celebrate  after winning the Australia Football League (AFL) Grand Final against the Sydney Swans at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.  Photograph: Julian Smith/EPA

It’s not about the race or the time any more. It’s about finding the energy to compete

It’s 65 years since Mayo last lifted Sam Maguire, 62 since the Bulldogs last picked up the AFL Premiership Cup. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Australian Rules football grips the nation like Gaelic football final does in Ireland

Thomas Barr on his way to fourth place in the Olympic 400 metres hurdles final. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

The performances of Thomas Barr in Rio – and the Mayo team at Croke Park – have shown again that athletes can sometimes rise to th(...)

The Jailbreak Triathlon in Cobh is a little more challenging than most as the name might suggest. Photo: Getty Images

It was my first ever triathlon and there was no pressure. Or so I kept telling myself

 Head over heels: Hannah Looney celebrates Cork’s victory in last year’s All-Ireland camogie final. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Can Cork beat Kilkenny in the All-Ireland camogie final and top Dublin’s record?

 Sonia O’Sullivan during the Dublin City Triathlon at the weekend: the run was too much.  Photograph: James Crombie/INPHO

Everyone assumes the run is my strong point, but nothing could be further from the truth

Sonia O’Sullivan: “There have been many news reporters wanting to speak to me and I have not spoken to anyone because, until the investigations [on the Rio ticketing controversy] have run their course, I won’t know any more than what’s being written in the papers, or else spoken through the news.”  Photograph: Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images

Story has been sensationalised and at this stage, without proof, we are none the wiser

Thomas Barr  after qualifying for the  Olympic final in the 400m hurdles. Photograph: Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Olympic final place for 400m hurdler is exactly what Irish athletics needs

Sonia O’Sullivan: “The 10,000m events, marathons and race walks are all straight finals and, with that, present just once chance to do the best you can.”

The Games have begun but it’s hard to predict exactly how well our athletes will fare

Katie Taylor leads the Ireland team into the stadium during the opening ceremony for the Baku 2015 European Games  in  Azerbaijan. Photo: Francois Nel/Getty Images

Olympic gold medallist has not had to deal with same level of attention in build up to Rio

 Sonia O’Sullivan  after failing to qualify in the heats of the Women’s 1500m in Atlanta. “I couldn’t accept Atlanta was going to be the end for me. I had to find a way back, to be my best again.” Photograph: Inpho

Swimmer’s success was so out of the ordinary it was impossible to go unnoticed

South Africa’s 800m runner Caster Semenya is vowing to win an Olympic gold medal in Rio. Photograph: Getty.

Going to Stade Louis II with a different perspective from competitive days

Maybe some Irish athletes can take a leaf from Rory’s book, and think more about what they need to do to get results on the big stage. Photo: Getty Images

It’s the mark of a great champion to be able to make a decision and put themselves first

Síofra Cléirigh Büttner in ction during the  National track and field championshios at Morton Stadium in Santry. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

European Athletics Championships in Amsterdam a great place to start

Wesley Hoolahan fires the Republic of Ireland into the lead against Swedenat the Stade de France. Photograph: Martin Bureau/AFP/Getty

I’m hoping for similarly positive performances from our athletes in Amsterdam

Caster Semenya is unbeaten in her three Diamond League races, running times far faster than her opponents. Photograph: Alessandro Bianchi/Reuters

With Olympics on horizon, the Court of Arbitration for Sport has thrown spanner in works

Katie Taylor in action against Estelle Mossely during the World Boxing Championships semi-final defeat in  Astana, Kazakstan.  Taylor will still be in Riol to defend her Olympic crown. Photograph: Inpho

Race doesn’t encourage greatness such is the reduction in qualification standards

Rob Heffernan gave an open and honest interview to Jarlath Regan on An Irishman Abroad. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

The air of negativity created by selection issues has been quite unseemly

David Rudisha: the race in Shanghai  was allowed to continue in farcical circumstances, but Rudisha   faded to fifth. Photograph: Marcio Machado/Getty Images

Two ridiculous decisions show how much work the IAAF has to do to rebuild trust

 Moylussa, Co Clare.  Photograph: Tony Doherty

Visit to see Ger Hartmann while in Ireland has changed my shopping list

Sonia O’Sullivan: “You will find that the more even your pace is throughout the race, the more in control you will feel.” Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty Images

Being able to pace yourself in training and in races is a skill we all should learn

Sonia O’Sullivan: “The atmosphere and noise on London Bridge was exhilarating.” Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty Images

One of the greatest marathons in the world got the exciting finishes it deserves this year

Cork’s Valerie Mulcahy: told stories of cold showers (or worse, of no showers), of last-minute venue changes for games and training. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Ten-time All-Ireland winner Valerie Mulcahy’s revelations a real eye-opener

Fionnuala McCormack,  winner of the Women’s Spar Great Ireland Run, crossing the finishing line in the Phoenix Park.  Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

It becomes ingrained in your brain when you spend so much time racing

Sonia O’Sullivan enjoying the moment after completing the Dublin City Marathon in 2015.  Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

The benefits of non-competitive running can be enjoyed purely for their own sake

Paul Pollock finished 14th in the World Half Marathon Championships. Photograph: James Veale/Sportsfile

With Olympics around corner, it is essential endurance athletes get to tailor their training

“It wasn’t until the build-up to the Sydney Olympics that I realised how important this had become.” Sonia O’Sullivan and F Yamna Belkacem of France ahead of Round 1 of the Women’s 5000m at the Olympic Games in Sydney. Photograph: Eric Luke

‘I trained around much of the old-school philosophy: the more you train, the faster you run’

Marcus O’Sullivan: enjoyed considerable success at the World Indoor Championships and proved inspirational to  a young Sonia O’Sullivan. Photograph: Allsport/Inpho

Punishment of banned Russia ensures a more level running track for ‘clean’ athletes

Nate Diaz applies a choke hold to win by submission against Conor McGregor during UFC 196 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Photograph:  Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

Conor McGregor fight attracted me, but I did not feel comfortable when blood started flowing

There is no better breeding ground for new talent than the schools cross-country championships. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

I could never have dreamed back then of lifestyle that athletics has given me since

Sonia O’Sullivan: “There is nothing greater than getting positive feedback on the world stage to boost momentum going into the summer of an Olympic year.” Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

But if an athlete is confident of delivering at the World Indoors they should go for it

Sonia O’Sullivan on her way to a 1,500m silver medal at the World Championships in Stuttgart in 1993. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

I spent over 20 years wondering how my rivals in Stuttgart managed to run so fast

“I have often shared the stage with sports psychologists and it always amazes me how the real life athlete stories can align so perfectly with the science of sport,” says Sonia O’Sullivan. Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty Images

Nerves before a race are normal and parents should ease pressure rather than ramp it up

Sonia O’Sullivan: “It’s great to see some men’s and women’s sports sharing the same centre stage, both individual and team, although plenty more sports could follow suit.”  Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty Images

There is no one else to back us up, no one to lend a hand if something goes wrong

 Sonia O’Sullivan:  “What I decided to do instead was to step out of my comfort zone and literally jump in at the deep end.” Photograph:  Julian Finney/Getty Images

Sometimes an injury can allow us to pursue a different sporting interest

IAAF president Sebastian Coe. Photogaph: Martin Rickett/PA Wire.

If we want to restore sport’s credibility, athletes must break code of silence

“I was so much more on the edge going into the 1996 Olympic year, thinking about nothing else but winning the gold medal in Atlanta,” says Sonia O’Sullivan. Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty Images

For athletes preparing for Rio Olympics, living in the present is key to preparation

The Ireland Women’s Senior team celebrate winning bronze medals at the European Cross Country Championships in Hyeres, France on Sunday. Photograph: Sasa Pahic Szabo/INPHO

Irish women’s team have ability to achieve dreams at Rio Olympics 2016

Last weekend I signed up for a swim in St Kilda, an iconic swimming venue, an event organised by Michael Klim, above, who won a silver medal at the Sydney Olympic Games. Photo: Mark Baker/Reuters

Learning to swim properly 16 years ago has proved so beneficial to me over the years

 Sonia O’Sullivan:  “It’s only when you mark out a target and tell a few people that you will be able to commit to a more rigid and strict routine of fitness.”  Photograph:  Julian Finney/Getty Images

Running, swimming or cycling with different groups can prove extremely satisfying

Sonia O’Sullivan: “I never really thought about winning the race, just getting myself to the point in the race where victory was an option.” Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

My trainer Alan Storey taught me simple lesson that training harder is not always answer

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