Start Referring to Sonia as Three Time World Champion
As if we needed more evidence this week former Chinese athletic team doctor Xue Yinxian admitted that all his country’s medals won in the 1990’s should be handed back due to a “systematic doping programme”.
Why should a load of pill popping Asian runners be of concern to us way over here in the real People’s Republic? Because part of this doping programme was at the expense of the great Sonia O’Sullivan from Cork.
Twice at the 1993 World Championships in Stuttgart our Cork hero was pipped for the gold medal spot by Chinese runners. In the 3000m Sonia was” beaten” by a Chinese trio of Qu Yunxia, Zhang Linli and Zhang Lirong and of course the medical team who had them hopped up on chemicals.
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Sonia did go on to win the 1995 world championships but in Cork we don’t settle for once-off winners when we can have more. Bragging rights over Dubliner Eamon Coughlan’s single world championship gold medal is important for Corkonians.
Watching footage of the 1993 finals is still painful – clearly the three Chinese had taken so much dope their feet were barely touching the track as they accelerated past Sonia in the 3000m final.
Later Sonia would claim silver in the 1500m – coming second to a woman by the name of Liu Dong. No prizes for guessing which country she’s from (and no, she isn’t one of the Skibbereen or Baltimore ‘Dongs’ – they were footballers and not runners anyway).
Watch Sonia come home in first place at the 1993 World Championships.
Just ignore the yoke head in front of her.
Watching the 1500m footage is almost comedy now but for the injustice perpetrated against the Cobh colossus. The Chinese wan accelerates so quickly during the last lap that you can nearly see the smoke bellowing out of her ears as whatever her medics had given her drove her over the finish line kicked in.
She even did the last 600 metres in 1 min 28 secs. That’s the distance from the Grand Parade entrance of Bishop Lucey Park, over to McDonald’s on Daunt Square and up Patrick Street as far as Patrick’s Bridge. There aren’t any crazed traffic-light-breaking food delivery cyclists (not naming any company in particular) who could do it that quickly, not to mind runners.
Did the poor woman herself even know where she was after such a feat? Tellingly, while Sonia looks well puffed after her incredible effort winning the 1500m silver, her gold medal swindling adversary shows no strain on her face whatsoever and looks like she has just got out of bed.
It’s the athletics equivalent of spotting a balaclava wearing thief walking nonchalantly out of a house with a bag of swag over his shoulder – you didn’t actually see him physically inside the gaf putting the stuff in the bag but it’s very obvious what’s going on.
The mild mannered Corkonian has never unleashed a proper tirade against the Chinese even though she would be entitled to. Her dignity has been as remarkable as the two legs that projected her along race tracks for her as long as they would carry her.
There’s talk now that too much time has passed for the gold medals to be handed over to Sonia. Even if the Chinese athletes themselves were reassembled from the mechanical parts that they were constructed from and finally admitted to being drug cyborgs the authorities are reluctant to start rejigging podiums decades later for fear of it being a Pandora’s box of scandal.
So to remedy this disgraceful state of affairs we call on Cork’s two mayors to hold a Gold medal awards ceremony where Sonia is finally presented with two new gold medals.
Starting with all Cork citizens and the local media we should then immediately start referring to Sonia as “Three Time Gold Medallist Sonia O’Sullivan” or “Triple World Champion Sonia O’Sullivan” as if she got a legal name change and now to be politically correct we all have to call her this awkwardly long name. We should do this consistently and religiously until it rolls off the tongue without a thought.
Even her own family should insist on addressing her affectionately as ‘Treble’ or ‘Three’ for a few years to ensure it catches on and that ‘Three Time Gold Medalist Sonia O’Sullivan’ herself is convinced and comfortable with it.
We’re not bothered whether it catches on out there in Not Cork. Once we in here in the People’s Republic are convinced that our Cork hero is a three time gold medallist that’s all that matters.
With the concrete pillars and devoted crowds those not familiar with the area might confuse it with Mahon Point Shopping Centre but the all new Páirc Uí Chaoimh is more than a smell of coffee, big brands and long lines of traffic.