Former World Champion, Olympian, and one of Ireland’s leading sports people, Sonia O’Sullivan was honored at the weekend (13 April 2013) by University College Cork when the new international standard 400 meter running track was re-opened and named the Sonia O’Sullivan Athletics Track at the Mardyke Sports Grounds in Cork.
“We are delighted to celebrate the achievements of one of the world’s greatest athletes, by naming our world class athletics track after Sonia O’Sullivan here in UCC’s Mardyke Sports grounds. An honorary graduate of UCC, Sonia is an inspiration to athletes everywhere, and particularly for those who will train and compete on this track in the future,” said UCC President Dr. Michael Murphy at the opening.
Having trained on the new track earlier in the day, Sonia O’Sullivan was delighted to officially reopen the running track at the Mardyke Sports grounds in UCC and stated that she was honored and privileged to see the running track bear her name.
The original running track at the Mardyke was irreparably damaged by the flooding of the River Lee in November 2009. While half the track was in use for a limited period, the athletics track was closed for major renovations for over six months this year. The university invested €650,000 in the new running track which will be used for training and competitions, by individuals, teams and sport clubs.
The opening of the Sonia O’Sullivan Athletics Track is the latest investment and development of sporting facilities at UCC. In 2012 the university celebrated a centenary of sporting success, since the purchase of the Mardyke grounds by UCC in December 1911. During the UCC Sport 1911-2011 centenary year, a number of significant capital investment projects, including the redevelopment of the Mardyke Pavilion and the opening of the Mardyke Arena phase III development, were completed to ensure that the Mardyke sporting complex continues to enhance the positioning and reputation of UCC as a leading university for sport both in Ireland and internationally.
Christine O’Donovan, Director of Sport and Physical Activity (Acting) at UCC said, “Sonia herself trained on the Mardyke running track for many years in the early days, and it was here that we all first witnessed her amazing talent. It’s extremely special to us that the UCC running track will bear her name, and we are thrilled that she is here with us today to mark this important occasion”.
The Sonia O’Sullivan Athletics Track was already being put to good use as the Irish University Athletics Association Track and Field Intervarsities were held in the Mardyke Sports grounds at the weekend, with several hundred athletes from all around Ireland competing in the races.