O'Rourke aiming to peak when it matters most

O'Rourke aiming to peak when it matters most

Derval O'Rourke says there is nothing better than being involved in the Olympics Games, as she counts down the days to London 2012.

"It has always been about the Olympics for me. It's the biggest Championships this year and for me it's all about those two days in August," explained the Cork woman.

O'Rourke stayed at home from the European Championships in Helsinki earlier this summer, a competition which given the number of high profile absentees could have seen him claim a podium position.

She has no regrets about not taking part in the event, admitting: "I medalled in the last two and this year there was a slightly lower standard in my event, so of course I thought I could medal, but I also have an awareness that I want to run fast at the Olympics and give myself every chance of doing it.

"This way is giving me every chance at the Olympics. Honestly I didn't regret not taking part. It didn't bother me and I think it bothered other people more.

"I watched the hurdles on TV and I didn't want to be there, but I also didn't want anyone to win! Unfortunately someone did win!"

O'Rourke, who turned 31 in May, says nothing beats the unpredictability of hurdles competition.

"It's totally unpredictable and that's what I love about it. You have an opportunity to do well each time; you also have an opportunity to make mistakes.

"If you can hold your nerve on that day and run to the best of your ability you have every chance.

"Nobody knows what is going to happen. Yes there are statistics and there are favourites, but there are still 10 barriers to get over and that complicates the applecart a little bit in terms of favourites.

"I love it. It's an amazing event and I love to watch it. I go onto YouTube and watch hurdles races and I think it's an awesome event. I may be biased but I think it is great."

O'Rourke has been happy with her form at present heading into the Olympics. In Lignano, Italy, recently she ran a season’s best of 13.02 seconds behind race winner Lolo Jones of America - proving her fitness after back spasms kept her out of the National Championships.

"My form is good, but I would like to start running a bit quicker now. My times in June were a little bit average, but now it's at the business end of the season and I need to be running fast."

Looking at her opposition at the Olympics, there is one name on everyone's lips - World champion Sally Pearson from Australia. She ran a world-leading time of 12.40 seconds in Paris last month.

"Sally is awesome and is an amazing technician with a great speed. She is able to put the two together very well and run very fast. She is by far and away the Olympic favourite right now.

"But she is the favourite in an event with 10 barriers and there's nothing to say she won't win, but also it's going to be tough.

"If it was easy a lot of people would be doing it. I won't even take in how she is running until after the final.

"There are so many girls in the mix as it is. There are probably between 16 and 20 girls who are really good at sprinting and hurdling in the world.

"I'm never going to go to the Olympics thinking I will have an easy ride or that I can run slower. I can't go slower; I have to be ready to run fast no matter who is there.

"The aim is to go there and do myself justice and run as fast as I can. On my day I am quite competitive but I have to take each round as it comes though.

"There is so much depth that I need to get safely through the first round into the final and then I am going to have to run a PB in the semi-final to make the final."

Much has been said and written about the Olympic Council of Ireland putting in place 'the best support structure' ever, but O'Rourke is quite individualistic in her approach to the Games.

"I do an individual sport - I run and I am very individualistic in my approach," said the Leevale AC star.

"I am out there competing on my own and I do a lot of my own stuff and I do have some good support in the Institute of Sport.

"The set-up seems to be great this time and with Sonia (O'Sullivan) on board as Chef de Mission I think that is a huge benefit.

"Sonia for me was my hero as a child. She has such experience and I don't think you can underestimate that experience she is bringing to it.

"I think if I ever needed help she would be there. Sonia is a good resource that we can tap into. She has won an Olympic medal and that is the 'holy grail' everybody wants. It is great to have her around."

O'Rourke, whose first round heat is on Monday, has not been participating in the training camp in St. Mary's, London ahead of the Games.

"I can see how it would work for some people and I would see how it makes loads of sense, but for me I am the type of girl who always goes in late.

"I get nervous if I go in too early and for me getting nervous is not a good thing.

"I think for a lot of the distance and endurance events St. Mary's will be a great place, but for what I do it's probably not the same. It's great that the option is there, but I won't be availing of it."

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