Loughnane calls it a day
Irish race-walking legend Olive Loughnane has announced her retirement from international
Loughnane’s greatest achievement in her lengthy career was claiming silver in the 20k walk at the
2009 World Athletics Championships in Berlin, only the fourth Irish athlete to medal at an outdoor
Worlds after Eamonn Coughlan, Sonia O’Sullivan and Gillian O’Sullivan.
She had finished seventh the previous summer in Beijing, which proved to be her highest ever
placing at an Olympic Games, also producing her Irish record of 1 hour 27 minutes 45 seconds.
The 37-year-old Cork-born Loughrea AC athlete competed in her fourth Olympics in London, having
made her bow at the 2000 Sydney Games, also taking in six editions of the World Championships.
In a brief statement this morning, Loughnane said: “To retire from athletics was always going to
be a tough decision for me. I can be happy with everything I have achieved and I have no regrets. I
want to thank Athletics Ireland, the Irish Sports Council and the Olympic Council for all their help and
support throughout my career.”
Athletics Ireland CEO John Foley paid tribute, saying: “Olive Loughnane has made an outstanding
contribution to Irish Athletics. Her achievements at national and international level have been of the
highest quality. From her excellent achievement in Beijing to her incredible performance in Berlin,
she has been one of Ireland’s best. On behalf of Athletics Ireland and myself I want to wish her all
the best for the future.”
Loughnane had a sixth-place finish to her name in the World Race Walking Cup in Russia in 2008,
finishing fourth in the European equivalent in Metz the following year – two results that set the
foundation for a proper tilt at a World Championship medal in Berlin.
Having made her way up the field, the Irish athlete was in a three-woman breakaway from the
halfway mark, and though Olga Kaniskina pulled clear to win gold for Russia, Loughnane held off
the serious challenge of Asian champion Liu Hong of China to pass under the Brandenburg Gate in
second place to claim a cherished silver medal.