|Ciaran "Mad Len" O'Lionaird rode his|
mullet all the way to the 2011 World
Championship final in Daegu
Ciaran O'Lionaird had a big 2011. After leading the Florida State Seminoles to a surprise runner-up finish at the 2010 NCAA Cross Country Championship, he had a strong, but disappointing finish to his collegiate track season. That's when things got exciting. He had an excellent string of races that netted him a 3:34.46 PR in the 1500 and landed him in the 2012 World Championship Final. He's fought through injury this year, but is coming around in time to compete in his first Olympic Games for his native Ireland. Check out his webpage GoCiaran.com and follow him on Twitter @GoCiaran
5 Questions with Ciaran O'Lionaird
1. Writing About Running: First off, congratulations on being selected for the Irish Olympic team. Ireland has a long tradition of great milers. What does it mean to you to be able to carry on that legacy at the Olympic level?
Ciaran O'Lionaird: Thank you very much. I'm really excited to represent my country naturally, but the fact I'm competing in an event that presents such a rich heritage for Ireland makes it that much better. Though I managed a breakthrough last year in the 1500, I still feel like I'm really new to the event, given my injury history. To be able to draw on the experience of Eamonn Coghlan and Mark Carroll has been a big positive factor, especially dealing with negative scenarios, such as this achilles injury. I'm hoping I can do Irish middle distance running justice there and I know we have a lot of talented young runners coming through to help continue that process.
2. Writing About Running: Your excellent 2011 that landed you in the World Championship Final had to open your eyes to what is possible. How much did that run of excellent racing change your long term goals in the sport?
Ciaran O'Lionaird: It definitely caused me to re-adjust my goals long-term and start looking at consistent high-placing in finals, which is a good thing, but it also perhaps filled me with a little too much excitement, as I felt I pushed too hard coming back off Daegu in the autumn as I wanted to make another jump for London. My body still isn't able to handle the training that most 3:34 runners do, and because of that, I need to take a step back and allow myself to develop as a runner and almost grow into the role I've cast for myself through my run at World's last year, as opposed to pushing the envelope constantly.
|Leading Florida State to a surprise second place finish|
at the 2010 NCAA Cross Country Championship
Ciaran O'Lionaird: The change has gone very smoothly. I'm extremely thankful of course to Coach Rowland, all of the OTC and Tracktown USA family, but also to Nike Running, the Oregon Project and Alberto (Salazar) for being understanding and facilitating the change. It was a really difficult decision for me to make and the timing was tough too, but I felt for my long-term development it was the right move. No doubt, Alberto's guys are putting out phenomenal performances and I'm really happy for them. For me though, my running goes well when my life outside running is balanced and not vice-versa. I felt like OTC gave me a better opportunity to achieve that, and so far it's been great. Coach Rowland is an incredible motivator and has really brought me back from what looked like a season-ending injury. I can't express my gratitude enough for that.
4. Writing About Running: You were all over Eugene for the US Olympic Trials and have ties to the American collegiate system as a standout at Florida State. What were a few of your favorite moments at the trials, on and off the track?
|Legendary Coach Bob Braman with O'Lionaird|
(photo: Athletics Ireland)
5. Writing About Running: Injuries have plagued you this year, but it sounds like you are starting to round into shape. What kind of racing do you have planned before and after the Olympics in August?
Ciaran O'Lionaird: I'm going to do some tune-up races mid-July before the Games. I'll be racing the mile in Cork, Ireland on July 17th, and from there we'll see. I'm still training hard, so I won't let up until right before the Games. I'm not looking beyond the Olympics right now. Should my body cooperate and opportunities present themselves, I always love to compete. But I'm taking it one race at a time. I've only been on the track less than a month training, but in the past ten days have had some of my best workouts ever. I don't quite know how it's come together, but it has. Credit to Coach Rowland and my support team at OTC as well as AAI HP and the Institute of Sport. Their work in handling my injury is starting to pay dividends!
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