Resolute O'Sullivan to race in Edinburgh

 

Athletics: Sonia O'Sullivan will travel from Australia to compete in the Visit Scotland Great Edinburgh Cross Country on January 14th.

The 2000 Olympics 5,000 metres silver medallist, who hopes to gain Australian citizenship and compete at the Commonwealth Games next March, will run in the colours of Ireland at the Scottish meeting.

But she is adamant after all of the hospitality she has been shown since making a winter home a decade ago in Melbourne, she wants to run at the Games for Australia.

"Folks here kept asking me if I would compete for them and now all of the paperwork has been submitted, it is a case of awaiting a decision from the authorities," said the 36-year-old from Cobh.

O'Sullivan and the Australian Nic Bideau, her partner and manager, have two young daughters who are already owners of Australian and Irish passports.

That decision to aim for the Commonwealth Games has seen Ireland's greatest-ever sportswoman start serious preparations - and cross-country racing remains an important part of her training schedule.

O'Sullivan fully realises the strength value she will obtain from the discipline, which saw her seven years ago in Morocco become the first woman to win both long- and short-course gold medals at the IAAF World Championships.

"I'm really delighted Sonia's coming home for the competition, where she will be a top attraction," said Matthew Turnbull, the elite athletes director for the Edinburgh meeting.

"With competing in the Commonwealth Games a serious and a genuine possibility, she's been hammering the training Down Under with Craig Mottram and Benita Johnson."

Mottram, upsetting African domination at global championships, was third in last summer's World 10,000 metres final while his Australian compatriot Johnson won the 2004 World Cross Country long-course title.

O'Sullivan in Edinburgh will face at least two other elite Europeans: Aniko Kalovics of Hungary and Poland's Justyna Bak.

Several other big names - including some world-class Africans - are yet to decide whether to compete in Holyrood Park.

Meanwhile, world marathon record holder Paula Radcliffe will finish another highly successful year by competing in the San Silvestre Vallecana New Year's Eve meeting in Madrid.

Radcliffe will be among the favourites for the 10-kilometre road race, which attracts not only an elite entry - the above-mentioned Mottram and Johnson defeated Paul Tergat and Catherine Ndereba to win last year - but also around 10,000 fun runners in the Spanish capital.

Radcliffe has been troubled by a bronchial problem since her World Championship marathon win in Helsinki, but that is now well under control.