Cora Staunton in action for Carnacon last month. Her new book is inspiring. Photograph:  Tommy Dickson/Inpho

There has never been a better time for girls and women to be inspired to take up sport

   Sonia O’Sullivan and Anna Geary warm up before the Croke Park Charity Challenge between Cork and Mayo   in support of Self Help Africa and Alan Kerins. Photograph: Damien Eagers

Once on the pitch, you immediately realise you are just one of 15 on a huge field of play

Sinéad Diver was victorious in the Melbourne marathon, running the second-fastest time by an Irish woman. Photograph: Bradley Kanaris/Getty

41-year-old knocks over six minutes off her personal best as she breaks course record

Sea water  seems to help a  horse’s legs  and any cuts they may have, again all very familiar to me. Sea water has always helped to heal  cuts  in less time

Some think superhorse Winx walks on water but she is just soothing her legs in the sea

Competitors in the 2017 Melbourne marathon on October 15th. Photograph: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

What seems like something out of the ordinary can quickly become normal

Sinead Diver crossing the finishing line to win the Sunshine Coast half-marathon in Australia on August 19th, 2018. Photograph:   Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

Mayo woman Sinead Diver chasing a 2:30 Melbourne marathon while living Down Under

The health and safety of an athlete must be paramount and competition officials, and the athlete’s  fellow competitors, should be cognisant of that fact. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Athletes, officials and spectators need to be made more aware of the IAAF protocols

The Ireland women’s hockey team celebrate with their silver medals following last weekend’s World Cup Final at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre in London. Photograph: Kate McShane/Getty Images

It’s much more satisfying to be rewarded for results than awarded for potential

Luke Mathews  and Jordy Williamsz of Australia. Both men are following a hectic schedule as they try to plot a route to the top in the sport they love. Photograph: Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images

It’s a long, hard road to the top in athletics and only the most durable survive

 Ireland’s silver medal winners from the World U-20 Championships in Finland,  (l-r)  Rhasidat Adeleken, Sommer Lecky, Gina Akpe-Moses, Patience Jumbo-Gula, Ciara Neville  and Molly Scott. Photograph: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Our junior athletes have experienced success on the big stage and know more is attatinable

 Sophie O’Sullivan  celebrating her silver medal with  mother Sonia O’Sullivan after the medal ceremony for the 800m in Gyor, Hungary. Photograph:  Laszlo Balogh/Getty Images

Behind every successful athlete is a dedicated team that works quietly in the background

The Elliptigo is a lot of fun, one more activity to include in my week

The inclines are harder than running but coming downhill is a nice cruising rest

Every time Sarah Healy has stepped on the track this year she has impressed, her progression perfectly steady. Photograph: Inpho

Novice 1,500m runner is now putting a bit of pressure on Ciara Mageean

Johnny Sexton: fully focused on Ireland turning the tables on Australia in Melbourne this weekend. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Judging by Sexton’s demeanour, team not here for the koalas or the kangaroos

 Ireland’s Peter O’Mahony celebrating a win over Australia at the Aviva Stadium in November 2016. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Australia play France in the World Cup at the same time as the rugby

Over the years I’ve learned a few tricks to help pass the time on board, and that starts by getting up and walking around

Light stretching, window seats and bringing your own food make for a better experience

Sonia O’Sullivan on a run in Cork. The growth and popularity of running is hard to miss wherever you go 

It’s time to raise the bar and expect more from our athletes

Vivian Cheruiyot of Kenya celebrates after crossing the finish line to win the elite women’s race in the London Marathon. Photograph:   Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

London Marathon featured great performances - but it was not a truly great race

Australia’s Michael Shelley  passes a prone Callum Hawkins of Scotland as he collapses after being in the lead of the Men’s Marathon Final  at the XXI Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, Australia. Photograph: Tracey Nearmy/EPA

Disturbing image from the Commonwealth Games Marathon remains in the mind

 South Africa’s Caster Semenya coasts to victory in the 1,500m  final at  the Commonwealth Games at the Carrara Stadium on the Gold Coast, Australia. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Ruling on hyperandrogeism may change things for athletes like Caster Semenya

Athletes in action during the IAAF Men’s World Half Marathon Championships  in Valencia. Photograph: Miguel Angel Polo/EPA

Presentation by new Athletics Integrity Unit part of a memorable weekend in Valencia

 Sonia O’Sullivan: “These days a parkrun is a novel attraction when visiting an unfamiliar city. You’re never too far away from the Saturday morning 5km endorphin fix.” Photograph:  Julian Finney/Getty Images

‘It’s only taken me close to 13 years but each run has a different story, a different memory’

Sonia O’Sullivan crosses the finish line of the Peaks Challenge Falls Creek

Completing the 235km Peaks Challenge Falls Creek left me shattered but incredibly satisfied

I used to run alone for many years . . . Now there are more women than men out running the roads around Cobh, which has one of the largest growing clubs in Cork with close to 200 adult members. Photograph: Getty Images/iStock

Girl running in 1984 mini-marathon would never have envisaged growth that was to come

Ireland’s Keith Earls  against Wales   at  the Aviva Stadium in  Dublin. You would  expect there might just be some small report of the match in the Australian papers.  Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Even in a rugby country like Australia the Six Nations barely registers as a blip on the radar

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

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