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Back in the day - Shock as Sonia O'Sullivan pulls out of all athletics action - The Irish News, Jan 28 1999

Sonia O'Sullivan celebrates after winning her second gold at the World Cross-Country championships in Marrakesh
The Irish News Archive

SHOCK has greeted Sonia O’Sullivan’s decision to pull out of all athletics action for the 1999 season.

The news came as a massive blow to the Belfast organisers of the World Cross-Country Championships in March, which now has been robbed of the two main Irish attractions O’Sullivan and Catherina McKiernan.

O’Sullivan said that she had decided to take the long pause from competition in order to prepare for next year’s Olympic Games in Sydney.

The 28-year-old Irish woman has yet to claim an Olympic medal despite competing at the Barcelona and Atlanta Games.

Speaking from Melbourne, where she has spent some of the winter with her boyfriend Nick Bideau, O’Sullivan said the Sydney Games were now the “main focus of my athletics career”.

“Hopefully the rest will help me achieve it. Back in 1995, the year before Atlanta, I won pretty much everything that mattered and some people were already prepared to hand me gold medals.

“But look what happened.”

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THE Commonwealth Council yesterday ordered Paul Burke to defend his lightwelterweight title against Belfast southpaw Eamonn Magee.

And last night promoter Mike Callahan said he has had to turn down a WBF title shot for Magee in Middlesbrough next month in order to concentrate on the Commonwealth challenge.

The Commonwealth Council decision follows complaints from the Northern Ireland Area Council about the outcome of the November 30 clash in Manchester.

Preston fighter Burke was awarded a highly-controversial points win over the north Belfast man at Bowlers niteclub.

The general consensus of boxing opinion – except referee John Keane – was that ‘The Terminator’ Magee had done more than enough to take the vacant title.

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DUNGANNON’S Patrick Wallace maintained his brilliant run at the Regal Welsh Open by storming into the last 16 with a 5-1 win over Tony Chappel.

The world number 150, who is provisionally ranked 83rd, shocked 1997 world champion Ken Doherty in Tuesday’s first round.

Prior to this week, Wallace had never been beyond the last 64 of a world ranking tournament.

The Dungannon man closed out the match with a brilliant break of 109 in frame six which was his second century in as many days.

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QUEEN’S manager Dessie Ryan faces something of a selection headache for tomorrow’s Ryan Cup decider against a strong Garda outfit in Westmanstown.

On paper, Ryan would be expected to stay loyal to the 15 players who grafted out a 0-10 to 0-8 win over NUI Galway in the semi-final replay in Enniskillen last weekend.

However, Armagh intercounty man David Wilson, Derry senior Emmett McGilloway and Tyrone youngster Damien Teague are hoping to move up from the bench for tomorrow’s decider at the west Dublin venue.

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UUJ freshers A football team recovered from a slow start to eventually subdue UCD 2-14 to 1-9 in yesterday’s All-Ireland quarter-final at Jordanstown.

An early goal for the Dublin team left UUJ 1-2 to 0-1 in arrears after only three minutes however, the northerners quickly regrouped to lead 1-9 to 1-4 at the interval.

Chief Poly goal-grabber this season, Oliver Gaughran was on the mark again yesterday with UUJ’s first half goal after excellent work by Armagh senior Padraig McKeever.

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