Sonia to focus on the short route


Contrary to some expectations that Olympic 5,000 metre silver medallist Sonia O'Sullivan would be winding down now that she is both a mother and in her thirties, the athlete has declared that she is looking towards the Athens Olympics in 2004 and moving down in distance rather than up.

Speaking in Dublin, O'Sullivan quashed theories that she would be moving towards the marathon, a natural progression for athletes of her maturity.

Instead, she says she intends to run more 1,500 metre races.

"After this year one of the races I was most happy with was my 1,500 metre run in Oslo," she said.

"It makes me believe that I can run faster. So I'm thinking now I might go back down again and work my way back up. I think I have the Irish record for 10,000 metres, and so now I can leave that for a while and go back down to the 1,500 metres."

O'Sullivan's move, typically, goes against the grain, but her confidence is clearly high and her demeanor more relaxed than ever before.

She also hopes to be in good enough shape to compete in the Olympics in four years time.

In August of 2004, O'Sullivan will be 34, as will her old rival from Portugal, Fernando Ribeiro.

"It's great to have an Olympic medal. It gives me great motivation. I think I could be better," she said. "Definitely I'd like to run in the Olympics again, although at this stage it's quite far off."

O'Sullivan will run in Loughrea next weekend, but she has not considered attacking the five-mile record she set last year along the roads, even though her rival and friend, Britain's Paula Radcliffe, has been drafted in.

"A record this year is not really an issue," she said. "Last year when I competed in it, the race was my first really hard one after Ciara was born. A world record never entered my mind. It's the same this year.

"I'm going there to have a good time. I like it because it has the feel of a Tour de France race with all of the people gathering very close alongside the road."

Following the Loughrea race, O'Sullivan will travel to Newcastle to compete in the Great Northern run.