Chris O’Donnell has been here before. Global finals, the biggest stage of them all, millions watching around the world, the pressure that comes with it.
The Sligo man knows how to deal with the spotlight and doesn’t shy away from what it entails.
Over the course of the next week he will once again try to reach lofty heights as he bids to make yet another final with the Mixed 4x400m Relay team at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest and also sets his sights on producing a strong individual performance in the Men’s 400m as he goes in hunt of at least a semi-final place.
It won’t be easy, but he is open about his goals.
“I want to at least match last year or perhaps better it,” he says from the Athletics Ireland holding camp in Slovakia.
“The schedule is probably a bit more difficult considering last year I had a rest day between the Mixed Relay and 400m.
“If I can make the semi-final in the individual and run close to my PB or my PB that will be absolutely amazing.
“You have no better opportunity than at a World Championships and I’m led to believe there are going to be tonnes of Irish fans out there so that is going to spur me on as well.”
O’Donnell was part of the Mixed Relay team that made the Olympic final in Tokyo two years ago and the World final in Oregon last summer. They expect to do the same again.
“There is no hiding the fact that we want to make the final in the Mixed Relay and do better than we did last year,” he tells Irish Runner.
“When we first got together as a team it was kind of a miracle job making finals. Now we’re going in absolutely expecting to make the final.”
Chris O’Donnell finding form ahead of Budapest
The 25-year-old believes he is hitting form at the right time as he heads into Budapest. Last month he set his season’s best of 45.73 in Madrid before running sub-46 seconds again in difficult conditions to win his fifth national senior 400m title.
“It’s pretty easy to tell looking at my times as the year has progressed, it’s very much an upward curve.
“To the outside, it might have looked like I started off a bit slow this season, but I was more than happy with where I was in those first few races even though I was in the 46 second range.
“I’m going into the World Championships in a better place than I was last year, I’m coming into form. I’m really happy with the trajectory that I’m on, even though I haven’t hit my personal best yet.”
It has been a magical sporting summer for O’Donnell’s own village of Grange with fellow native Mona McSharry winning three gold medals at the European U23 Swimming Championships and narrowly missing out on a World medal in Japan.
The one-lap sprinter knows he will have the entire community’s support when he steps out onto the track at the new 35,000 seater National Athletics Centre.
“I went home the other week and the amount of people coming up to me who were just saying ‘see you Budapest’ was mad.
“I’m going ‘you don’t even watch athletics’ but they’re all going.
“The village wouldn’t be diehard athletics fans, but they’ve bought into it. My Dad’s busy sorting out the group chat with tickets and things like that. He’s got a job on his hands.”
Lifted by the support from home, across the country and in the stadium, Chris O’Donnell will hope for a couple of memorable performances in the Hungarian capital.