An Olympic athletics dream born out of football – Ireland’s Chris O’Donnell (VIDEO)

Ireland’s Chris O’Donnell started his sporting career as a promising footballer.

In a bid to improve his speed on the pitch, the pacey winger started sprint training at his local club in Sligo and it didn’t take long for his talent for track racing to emerge.

The 23-year-old, who is set to compete for Ireland in the mixed 4 x 400m relay in Tokyo, explained how improving his football ability soon transitioned into an Olympic dream.

“I was encouraged to take up athletics training as a means of improving myself as a footballer," commented the Loughborough Sport Scholar. 

“I went down to the track and did sprint training a couple of times a week and entered a few local races. I started doing better than expected and soon moved onto the likes of the National Championships.

“I started doing okay there and it got to the stage after a year or two where I was starting to compete internationally for schools and under-16 levels for Ireland – I just couldn’t ignore that. I said I’d give athletics a year and thankfully it went well. I’ve never looked back.”

Making his Olympic debut in Japan, Chris has set his sights firmly on delivering his very best performance:

“Success for me in Tokyo would be to make the final…we believe we’ll be right up there and it’s another target to want a national record as well. As long the four of us run our hearts out it’s all we can ask for.

“You never know what’s going to happen so we’re just going to help each other as much as we can, run as fast as we can and hopefully do our country proud.”

Chris and the Ireland team will compete in the Olympic heats today at 12 noon BST.

Loughborough’s dedicated 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games website features all the latest news, videos, and medal tables from Japan. 

Notes for editors

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