Athletics: O'Sullivan wasting no time in sizing up the mile

AS THE cleaners began to deal with the papers which swirled around the empty Olympic stadium late on Wednesday, a leggy, tracksuited figure took to the track for a series of clockwise circuits, writes Mike Rowbottom.

An hour and a half after her 3,000 metres victory had transformed the stands into a tumult of waving flags, Sonia O'Sullivan was back. A short delay before giving a BBC interview had given her a nice opportunity to warm down. Even winning a first major title, and Ireland's first European gold, does not cause this runner to disrupt her routine.

The next challenge for O'Sullivan, who tracked Britain's Yvonne Murray for six laps and then struck like a hunter, lies in Zurich, where she hopes to set a world mile record on a track that has been newly relaid.

Whether that attempt succeeds or not, however, Wednesday night's achievement will stand proud for her in a season that has already seen her set a world record at 2,000m and a European record at 3,000. 'There was so much expectation back in Ireland,' she said. 'I had to win this or I would not have been able to explain myself.'

Four years ago in Split, O'Sullivan finished 11th in the same event. 'I was afraid of other runners in the race,' she said. The fear has gone now - a legacy of regular training runs with the likes of Kenya's world 10,000m record holder, William Sigei, and the world 3,000m steeplechase champion, Moses Kiptanui, both fellow members of the Teddington-based group managed by Kim McDonald.

O'Sullivan may have to wait until next season to measure herself again against the Chinese. The latest information is that they will not be running at the grands prix in Cologne and Berlin.

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