Family Fortunes

18 for 18: Sophie O'Sullivan is well placed to continue following her mother's ways

She had a golden week during the summer, following in her mother Sonia’s footsteps.

OVER THE NEXT 10 days, our 18 for 18 series will look at 18 Irish athletes aged 18 or younger set for a big 2018. You can read the rest of the series here

Sophie O'Sullivan Morgan Treacy / INPHO Morgan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO


There was one week in July when 15-year-old Sophie O’Sullivan hit headlines left, right and centre. An article entitled ‘Sonia O’Sullivan’s 15-year-old daughter storms to 800m victory at the Morton Games’ appeared on The42 on 12 July.

O’Sullivan had just enhanced her growing reputation as one of the brightest young and upcoming talents in athletics as she stormed to victory in the Women’s 800m B race at the Morton Games in a time of 2:11.13.

At the time, she was already U17 Australian champion over 800m and 1500m and this sparked serious conversation that she may, some day, hit the heights reached by her mother, Olympic silver medalist and former World champion Sonia.

Four days later and with the comparisons still flying, she gave people more reason to talk.

Sophie O'Sullivan is presented with a medal from her mother Sonia Oisin Keniry / INPHO Oisin Keniry / INPHO / INPHO

32 years after Sonia had done so, Sophie delivered another glittering performance to claim the U17 1500m title at the Irish Life Health National Juvenile Championships in Tullamore. Representing Ballymore Cobh, she crossed the line in a time of 4.41.80

Sonia won the same title back in 1985.

Her daughter hasn’t gotten too carried away by her achievements, or the comparisons drawn between the pair.

“It was just something fun to do while in Ireland during the summer holidays,” she told The Irish Times in September, while Sonia echoed her laid-back opinions:

“She goes around running and she never once considers anything I’ve done in relation to her running. Being in Australia, it’s not so much in her face as it would be in Ireland. Even when she is there, she’s just kind of oblivious to it all.

Sophie O'Sullivan Oisin Keniry / INPHO Oisin Keniry / INPHO / INPHO

“It doesn’t seem to faze her or bother her, which is great. She just gets on with things and she’s just doing what she’s doing. In her mind it bears no relation to me.”

She’s training away with her running group and will be at Falls Creek for the annual training camp in the New Year, as Sonia wrote in a recent column.

Sophie won’t get too excited herself, but undoubtedly she’s a rising prospect for the rest of us to be excited about.

The42 has just published its first book, Behind The Lines, a collection of some of the year’s best sports stories. Pick up your copy in Eason’s, or order it here today (€10):

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