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'I have to get back out there and redeem myself at the Olympics'

Even this far out, Ciarán O’Lionaird has Rio on his mind.
Feb 22nd 2015, 10:00 AM 16,614 3

“This has been the worst experience of my life. There’s no positives I can take from this.”

“It just felt like my Achilles was screaming with fire. I’m just sick of all this.

“I’m going to find something else to do with my life.

“Maybe if I spend some time away from the sport, it will get me healthy again and relight the fire.”

IT WAS ONE of the defining moments of the 2012 London Olympics from an Irish perspective.

Fresh from failing to make the semi-finals of the 1500m, a clearly heartbroken Ciarán Ó Lionáird faced the RTÉ cameras and even now, nearly three years later, it is still a difficult watch:

Source: mondo101/YouTube

And this week he suffered further disappointment as he was forced to pull out of the GloHealth Senior Indoor Championships which take place at the Athlone Institute of Technology International Arena this weekend.

However, while his focus will now be on the outdoor season, the Corkman admits that putting the record straight in Rio is the end game.

“I’m still probably known by most people for my Olympic performance, or lack thereof,” he told The42 earlier this week.

“For better or worse it’s what people remember and so I have to get back out there and redeem myself at the Oympics and that’s my goal.

“It’s why I got surgery last year and it’s all part of the four year plan and I have to step on the line in Rio and really get after it.”

While it’s not something the 26-year old – who failed in his bid to record the first sub-four minute indoor mile on Irish soil on Wednesday – thinks about every day, it is certainly something that drives his performances.

“It doesn’t play on my mind all the time but it’s a matter of fact that I didn’t perform in London.

“I didn’t do justice to my talent and, because of my injury, I didn’t get an opportunity to compete at the level I wanted to.

“I don’t dwell on it but I take it with me and I know I have to do better the next time.”

Ciaran OÕLionaird Ciarán Ó Lionáird at the launch of this weekend's GloHealth Senior Indoor Championships. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

And you get a sense that Ó Lionáird really has learned from the experience, even if he is unlikely to ever stop speaking his mind.

“I was just being brutally honest. In some ways, if I could go back, would I change what I said? I think I’d change how I said it but I think my feelings were real and legitimate.

“It’s very frustrating when you give your all to something and — people tell you when you’re growing up that if you try hard you’ll do your best at something — but I felt like I was being punished because I got hurt by trying so hard.

“I struggled mentally with that and, I suppose, it was a maturity thing, but look, people told me what I needed to hear, that I needed to mature and grow up and that disappointment is part of the sport, so I’ve learned from it and applied a positive.”

Tickets for both days of the GloHealth Senior Indoor Championships, taking place on 21 and 22 February, are still available to buy for €10 at the gate. 

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