Chris O’Donnell keen to use relay success as “motivation” in weeks ahead

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It’s a little over a fortnight now since Chris O’Donnell experienced what he describes as the “quickest” week of his life.

At the European Athletics Championships in Rome the 26-year-old helped Ireland to a historic gold medal in the Mixed 4x400m Relay, before running the individual event and then the Men’s 4x400m Relay.

O’Donnell and his teammates Rhasidat Adeleke, Thomas Barr and Sharlene Mawdsley joined Sonia O’Sullivan as being Ireland’s only ever gold medal winners at the European Championships, when they stormed to Mixed Relay glory in a sensational new national record of 3:09.92, the fifth fastest time ever recorded in the event.

Ciara Mageean would subsequently join the illustrious list when she won 1500m gold two nights later, during what was a magical week for Irish athletics.

O’Donnell is fully aware of the magnitude of what himself and his teammates achieved but appreciates the need to move on now with the National Track and Field Championships taking place this weekend, before all eyes turn to the Olympic Games in Paris.

“I’m not just going to forget about it, I’m going to use it as motivation almost,” he says of the Mixed Relay success.

“It carried me through the rest of the Championships in my individual event, and I’m just going to use that now for the rest of the season as inspiration. In this sport you always have a goal and once you achieve that goal, you go to the next one.”

Chris O’Donnell on the success of the Irish Mixed 4x400m Relay

The success of the Mixed Relay in recent years has been something that the Sligo sprinter has been an integral part of but he feels their latest achievement has taken things to a whole new level.

“I started off with this team and almost every time we step foot on a track, we‘ve been successful,” he says.

“It started off by qualifying for the Olympics and then it was making Olympic finals, making World finals and while we were kind of scraping into those finals it was a bit of a miracle job. Every time we’ve been together it’s been such a high.

“This time was even more of a high which is hard to explain because when we first made that Olympic final, when we first qualified for the Olympics, that high was crazy, but this was even on another level.”

O’Donnell, who is based in Loughborough in the UK, has put his individual Olympic dreams on the backburner slightly as he chases relay success.

He still however has one more chance to achieve the automatic standard of 45 seconds dead, which would be a massive personal best, at the National Championships this weekend.

A lot hinges on the championships, where selectors will no doubt be keeping a close eye on athletes who are hoping to be selected for relay squads at the Olympics.

“I’ve not raced much because I’ve been prioritising the relay but I still think that I’m capable of doing it [hitting the automatic standard] and if not I’d still be delighted to be on the relay.

“I’m someone who thrives off the pressure. I like the pressure and I tend to run my best when there is pressure on. I enjoy that aspect of it and I’m very experienced. I always say experience counts a lot in these races and at this time of year coming up to a major championships. Nationals has always been important in terms of making teams in previous years and this year is going to be no different.

“I’ve got a very good record at nationals; I’ve won five out of the last six [400m titles].

“It’s very difficult to come back year after year after year, but I pride myself on being able to do that. Hopefully it’ll be more of the same this year.”

Chris O’Donnell was speaking in advance of the National Senior Track and Field Championships which take place in Morton Stadium, Santry this weekend. Tickets can be purchased from

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