BACK in 1992 Derval O’Rourke watched Gail Devers suffer a crashing fall after clearing the final hurdle when looking certain to claim the Olympic gold medal.
It was the moment she remembered most about the Olympic Games in Barcelona – not Michael Carruth’s gold medal or Wayne McCullough’s silver in boxing.
She took particular notice of the Dever’s incident as she had just started hurdling with former national champion, Seamus Power, at Leevale but the American’s misfortune did not deter her.
"I want to do that," she told herself but after her own fair share of misfortune in the meantime the medals make up for everything.
On Saturday night she took centre stage at the Olympic Stadium in Barcelona for the semi-finals and final of the 100m hurdles.
The big Turkish hurdler, Nevin Yanit, came out of the woodwork to win the gold but after a season interrupted by injury, Derval was happy with her silver.
She went through the event in style – fastest time of the season (12.88) to beat world leader, Carolin Nytra (Germany) in the first round, then 12.75 secs for automatic qualification in the semi-final before setting a new national record at 12.65 secs in the final.
Yanit, 24, emerged from relative obscurity this year to claim the title in 12.63 secs and Nytra, for all her fine performances on the circuit, had to settle for bronze in 12.68 secs.
It was the perfect race by the Leevale woman and her long suffering coach, Sean Cahill, who predicted something like this all year, pointed out that if she was not as quick away as usual it was because of her last visit to Barcelona when she was disqualified for false starting.
"We talked a lot about that in the lead up to the championships," he said. "That’s one thing she could not do. And I also predicted that Yanit was going to be the woman to beat."
O’Rourke said: "The thing is I came in here as a 12.96 – to come back with a national record is unbelievable. I came out strong and I dipped Carolin Nytra, so I can’t moan about that. It’s amazing. I’ll take it every day of the week."
It was another typical battling performance from the Cork woman and coach Cahill said she had come as near as she could to running the perfect race but she insisted it took a lot of effort.
"Some people think I just turn up, flick a switch and everything is easy," she said. "But everything is thought out. Yesterday I had written down what time I was going to get up at, what time I was going to eat my first food of the day, what time I was going to try to sleep, what time I was going to watch a DVD, what time I was going to get the bus to the track – everything comes down to such detail and it’s hard to keep that focus for two days."
A quick turnaround between the semi-final and final meant that she did not have time for the usual routine but her coach was more upset about it than she was.
"It meant that there was just Sean and myself there and I was happy with that," she said. "I would have liked if Terri (Cahill) could be there but unfortunately she had a bereavement in the family and had to go home."
She was not surprised with her performance and said she always thought she was going to win a medal despite a crashing fall earlier in the season.
"I felt I was going to win from as far back as March when I had to miss the world indoor championships after nicking a groin," she said.
"It was kinda hard to take so I just said ‘don’t go crazy eating chocolate and feeling sorry for yourself, keep your shape, make it count in Barcelona,’ I really did think I was going to win."
After her sensational performance in coming fourth in the final at the world championships in Berlin she wanted to prove to herself that she could put two good years together.
"Something I have never done is put two years together," she said. "I was very, very aware of that coming in here that I needed to pb because I felt that I needed to know that I could put two years together and not just feel like a one-hit-wonder – take two years of the pressure and then come back again and run fast again."
She insisted that championship running is what it’s all about as far as she is concerned.
"I think I just enjoy a battle," she said. "The world championships and the Olympics are the two I don’t have a medal from and, at the moment, I have to consider the worlds a big priority. I’d love to finish my career and have a medal from everything. That would be an unbelievable achievement."