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Saturday 3 December 2016

Sonia O'Sullivan 'overwhelmed' as statue tribute unveiled

Cobh Tourism have unveiled a life size bronze statue of local hero Sonia O Sullivan in Cobh Co. Cork, 20 years after her Gold Medal Win at the 1995 World Championships in Gothenburg.
Cobh Tourism have unveiled a life size bronze statue of local hero Sonia O Sullivan in Cobh Co. Cork, 20 years after her Gold Medal Win at the 1995 World Championships in Gothenburg.

GOLDEN girl of Irish athletics, Sonia O'Sullivan (45), admitted there is "probably no chance" of her being awarded medals from 1990s championships when she was beaten by drug cheats.

Sonia was speaking as she revealed she was "overwhelmed" by her home town of Cobh, Co Cork unveiling a life-size bronze statue in her honour.

The former Olympic, World and European Championship medal winner was accompanied to the gala ceremony by her husband, Nick Bideau, and her children, Ciara and Sophie.

But the most honoured star in Irish athletics history admitted she won't add any more medals to her glittering total despite the recent revelations about drugs cheats.

Athletics commentators regard Sonia O'Sullivan as one of the primary victims of drug cheats in the 1990s.

"My feeling is that I was before the time of the digital camera - all my photographs are in print.

RECORDS

"I was also before the time when they started storing the records of drug tests, blood tests and the like. Since then, the advancement in the technology has been incredible.

"How you test the samples, how you store the samples - it has all increased so much since my time racing," she said.

"But that didn't really start until the early 2000s, the mid 2000s. I was nearly finished my career at that stage."

When asked if she thought there was any chance of her being retrospectively awarded a medal because of the actions of drug cheat rivals, Sonia admitted it was unlikely.

"Probably not, no," she said.

Sonia ranks as one of the world's highest profile athletes to have fallen victim to drug cheats. She finished fourth in the 3,000m at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics - only to discover the following year that Tetyana Dorovskikh, who claimed a silver medal, was banned for a doping violation in 1993.

However, under the regulations in force at the time the Russian could not be stripped of her Olympic medal.

But Sonia admitted she was "very proud and deeply grateful" for her home town honouring her career achievements.

The life-size bronze statue by James McLoughlin was the brainchild of Cobh Tourism and was unveiled to mark the 20th anniversary of Sonia's gold medal winning performance at the 1995 World Championships.

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