Galway’s Olympic athlete scoops coveted award

Galway’s Olympic athlete, Olive Loughnane, has scooped The Irish Times/Irish Sports Council ‘Sportswoman of the Month Award’ for August after her superb performance in the 20k walk at the Beijing Olympics.

Loughnane knocked 93 seconds off her personal best to finish seventh and crossed the finish line just one minute and 14 seconds behind gold-medal winner, Olga Kaniskina of Russia.

In spite of the torrential rain, Loughnane, a native of Carrabane, Co Galway, produced Ireland's best result at the games in track and field, becoming only the 13th Irish athlete to finish in the top eight in an Olympic event.

“I am thrilled to receive this award and to be nominated for Sportswoman of the Year. When I look back on the Olympic Games I’m delighted that I performed on the day that really mattered.

“The physical side was the easiest part really, I was in great shape, but it’s about being able to produce your very best in the biggest race of your life – that’s the hard part.

“My time was 1:27:45, which was inside the old Olympic record, and I am proud of that. I couldn’t have done more. I have no plans to slow down. I am already back training for a race in Spain in two weeks time and I’m staying on ‘til London 2012.”

Being in Beijing was a testament to Loughnane’s strength of character, having suffered a chronic iron deficiency following the birth of her daughter Eimear two years ago. The 32-year-old Galwegian says the road back to race fitness was a long and gruelling one.

"Training 60 kilometres a week felt harder than the 120 kilometres I'd done before. I was definitely in the shape of my life when I travelled to China to represent Ireland.”

Loughnane, alongside previous monthly winners, will battle it out for the title of Sportswoman of the Year at an awards ceremony in Dublin next January.

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