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Resilience, balance the key to Sullohern’s resurgence

Monday, 18 December 2017 | Jane Aubrey



Celia Sullohern is taking each result in her stride, and is open to every opportunity that comes her way.

Over the last two months, the Commonwealth Games has gone from a tiny light, glittering in the distance to high beam, demanding Sullohern’s full attention and focus. Wide-eyed,  Sullohern is nothing but pleasantly surprised with her progression, borne of both resilience and balance.

Ranked fourth among an enviable pack of women’s marathon talent, Sullohern earned an automatic nomination for the Australian team for Gold Coast 2018 last Thursday night with her win at Zatopek:10, out-kicking Jess Trengove on the final lap around Lakeside Stadium for the national 10,000m title.

“I’d take any option to go to the Commonwealth Games,” Sullohern, a physiotherapist admitted. “The whole Comm Games thing is not something that’s been on my radar before Melbourne Marathon.”

Her result in October’s Melbourne Marathon came like a bolt from a blue, a five minute PB, crossing the line in 2:29.28. It was just her third attempt at the distance and followed from another maiden victory, at the City2Surf in Sydney.

As a junior, Sullohern competed at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships and in 2012, she won the Australian Open Cross Country title creating history off the back of winning the U20 title in 2011.

It was three years ago when Sullohern last raced the Australian 10,000m Championships. She would finish in fourth place in a time of 33:05.89, behind Kenyan Veronicah Wanjiru, Eloise Wellings and Madeline Hills (nee Heiner).

In the time since, the NSW north coast-based, Blue Mountains-born, athlete has been dabbling in triathlon. Earlier this year, Sullohern won the NSW Olympic Distance Championship (1.5km swim, 40km bike ride, 10km run) in 2:08.19 qualifying her for the ITU World Championship to be held on the Gold Coast in September 2018. Another event on Sullohern’s ‘radar’.

If there’s been a constant in Sullohern’s outlook over the last 12 months, it’s that she’s going with the flow, something that was also illustrated in her running at Zatopek:10.

“I’ve been trying not to go in with too much of a rigid plan,” Sullohern explained. “I’m finding a little bit better for me just to try and see what the race is going like and run with the bunch.”

With that in mind, the World Half Marathon Championships in Valencia next year could also be an opportunity for the 25-year-old.

“World Half is a great option,” Sullohern nods. “Comm Games aside, that would be an excellent trip away so – a few things on the radar. I’m enjoying while it’s here.”

Sullohern also took strength from her company on Thursday night, under lights at Lakeside Stadium. She knew she wasn’t alone with 5,000m specialist Emily Brichacek another who was putting her hand in the fire to see what could be achieved.

“It was really lovely,” said Sullohern. “A bunch of the girls who have come and gone from the sport over the years and just to see that resilience – it was great to be running with them. It’s a really exciting time in women’s distance running, and I’m stoked to be a part of it.”

Recognition too, from Wellings who’s become the standard-bearer for Australian women’s 10,000m running. The two NSW athletes embracing at the end of the gruelling event.

“She just said congratulations on how well I have been going this year and to try and keep that momentum going,” Sullohern explained of her conversation with the four-time Zatopek winner. “That means a lot coming from an athlete of her calibre.”

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