“It’s a very special moment” - Sonia O’Sullivan chats about being leading Ireland into the 2000 Olympics

O'Sullivan won a silver medal in the 5000m at the Sydney Olympics

Sonia O'Sullivan

Image: ©INPHO/David Leah

Irish Olympic silver medalist Sonia O’Sullivan says it was a great honour to lead her country into the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games and that it was a moment she’ll never forget.

O’Sullivan won silver at the Games in Australia and explained what the leading her country as flag-bearer during the opening ceremony meant to her.

"It was absolutely an honour," she tells Newstalk Sport. "At the time I was focused on competing and my event and it was just one other thing.

"When I did get to carry the flag in I did feel very proud and you just get buzz of it and goosebumps walking in there. You get a big loud cheer. It’s a very special moment. It’s something I’ll always remember."


Paddy Barnes will lead Ireland into this year's Olympic Games as flag-bearer, but previous to this three of the last four flag-bearers have been women. Does O'Sullivan think this is important for women in sport?

"I think that’s really important. It shows you that once you reach the pinnacle of your sport, that once you go to the Olympics, that men and women are treated equally.

"That’s absolutely the case with the Irish Olympic team. It doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman or what sport you are taking part in, you’re treated equally in the support that you are given."

O'Sullivan, who is mother to two teenage daughters, discussed how important it was to recognise women competing in the Games and in the wider sporting world.

"Women in sport is definitely still growing. There are so many great women involved in sport and you only have to look at the different sport in the Olympics where women are involved.

"There is such a variety, such a choice out there for people. But I think it’s the promotion of that and the interaction of the girls who can be role models for the schoolgirls.

"We need to somehow get the message across to the schools and into the classrooms saying that it’s important to be doing your school work but it’s also important to have other things outside of school.

"To be able to get outside and to be taking part in sport is really good for your health and your fitness. If you have someone standing up who reaches the Olympics or the World Championships or being the best that they can be good to show that they’re getting something out of it. To show that to young girls is really important."

Images courtesy of of  ©INPHO/David Leah