Derval O'Rourke

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Derval O'Rourke
Derval O'Rourke Barcelona2010.jpg
Derval O'Rourke
Medal record
Representing  Ireland
Women's athletics
World Indoor Championships
Gold medal – first place 2006 Moscow 60 m hurdles
European Championships
Silver medal – second place 2006 Gothenburg 100 m hurdles
Silver medal – second place 2010 Barcelona 100 m hurdles
European Indoor Championships
Bronze medal – third place 2009 Turin 60 m hurdles
Bronze medal – third place 2013 Gothenburg 60 m hurdles
Summer Universiade
Bronze medal – third place 2005 Izmir 100 m hurdles
Bronze medal – third place 2005 Izmir 4x100 m Relay
European Team Championships
Silver medal – second place 2009 Banska Bystrica Second League

Derval O'Rourke (born 28 May 1981) is an Irish former sprint hurdles athlete. She competed internationally in the 60 and 100 metres hurdles, and is the Irish national record holder in both events.[1] She participated in two Indoor World Championships, the last five Outdoor World Championships and the 2004, 2008, and 2012 Summer Olympics.

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Waterford, O'Rourke attended University College, Dublin (UCD) where she held a sports scholarship between 2000 and 2004. She graduated with a BA (Hons) degree from the college in 2003 and a Diploma in Business Studies from the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate School of Business in 2005.[citation needed]


O'Rourke first broke 13 seconds when she finished 4th at the 2003 European Under 23 Athletics Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland, running a national record of 12.96 seconds, missing out on a medal by just 0.01 seconds. In 2003, she competed at her first World Athletics Championships in Paris, and in 2004 competed at her first Olympic Games in Athens, on both occasions failing to make it past the heats. In 2005 O'Rourke reached the semi-finals of the World Championships in Helsinki. One week later Derval O'Rourke won the Bronze medal in the 100 m Hurdles at the World University Games in Izmir, Turkey in a time of 13.02 seconds. O'Rourke was also part of the Irish 4 × 100 m Relay team that won Bronze.

At the 2006 IAAF World Indoor Championships O'Rourke won the gold medal in the 60 m hurdles, becoming the first Irish woman to win an indoor world athletics championship. On her way to winning she broke the Irish national record twice and her winning time was 7.84 s.

O'Rourke had a successful 2006 outdoor track season after missing the initial part of the season due to injury. In the run up to the European Championships, O'Rourke lowered her Irish national record for the 100 m hurdles twice and had a personal best of 12.85 s before the championships. In the 2006 European Championships in Athletics, O'Rourke finished joint second with Kirsten Bolm and behind Swedish athlete and favourite, Susanna Kallur in a time of 12.72, a new national record. Later in the same championship O'Rourke ran the first leg for the Irish 4 x 100 m relay team which included Joanne Cuddihy, Ailis McSweeney, and Anna Boyle which set a new national record of 44.38 s.[2]

The 2007 season proved less successful for O'Rourke. She did not participate in competition during the indoor season. She did however travel to Osaka, Japan for the World Championships and qualified for the semi-finals but finished eighth. She ended the 2007 seanson with a best of 12.88 set in Bochum

2008 was also a poor season for O'Rourke. She did not compete at the World Indoor Championships, where she was the defending champion. Lolo Jones went on to win the championships and O'Rourke ended the indoor season with a best of 8.09 set in Peanía. O'Rourke competed for Ireland in the Women's 100-metre hurdles at the 2008 Summer Olympics held in Beijing, China: she failed to qualify from her heat, finishing sixth in a time of 13.22 s.

O'Rourke showed a return to form in 2009, highlighted by her capturing of the bronze medal in the 60 m hurdles at the 2009 European Indoor Championships in Turin, Italy in a time of 7.97 s.[3]

On 18 August 2009, O'Rourke qualified from her 100m hurdles quarter-final at the World Championships, coming in 2nd place in Heat 3 in a time of 12.86, a season's best. A time of 12.73 when finishing 3rd in her semi-final was good enough to qualify her for the World Championship final as a fastest loser. In the final on 19 August 2009, O'Rourke finished 4th behind winner Brigitte Foster-Hylton, Priscilla Lopes-Schliep and Delloreen Ennis-London, with a time of 12.67 setting a new national record and the fastest time by a European in 2009.[4][5] She was quoted afterwards as being "gutted not to have won a medal" but "It's a new national record, fourth in the world. I can't really complain."[6]

O' Rourke chose not to compete in the 2010 World Indoor Championships in Athletics due to minor injury.

O' Rourke was one of the favourites for the European title at the European Championships after a seasonal best of 12.71 in the semi-final and, her silver medal attained at the 2006 Championships amongst other chief contenders like Carolin Nytra and Christina Vukicevic. In the final, she won the silver medal once again. O'Rourke set an Irish record of 12.65, cutting .02secs off her previous mark. Turkey's Nevin Yanit won in 12.63, just .02 of a second ahead. O'Rourke said after the race "Medals are very special and, winning a silver medal in a new Irish record, I would take every day of the week, I think when I look back on my career whenever it ends, the only thing that will count is medals because they go into the history books and can't be taken away". O'Rourke has now been the only Irish athlete to win medals at the European Athletics Championships in 2006 and 2010. She was greeted by her fans, the media and the sports minister Mary Hanafin when she landed home on 2 August.[7]

O'Rourke was selected to represent Europe in the 2010 IAAF Continental Cup (Formerly IAAF World Cup) making her the 5th Irish person and second female to be selected to represent Europe after John Treacy (7th in 1979), Eamonn Coghlan (Gold in 1981), John Doherty (Silver in 1991) and Sonia O'Sullivan (5th in 1994, and Gold in 1998). O'Rourke finished 5th in a time of 12.99 seconds. The winner was Sally Pearson in a time of 12.65.

After injury interrupted training O'Rourke competed in the 60m Hurdles at the 2011 European Athletics Indoor Championships in Paris. She finished 2nd in her heat in 8.07 seconds and then ran a season's best of 7.98 to come 3rd in the semi-final. O'Rourke finished 4th in the final, running another season's best of 7.96.

A the 2011 World Championships in Athletics, O'Rourke finished second in her heat behind eventual champion Sally Pearson of Australia who clocked 12.53. O'Rourke withdrew from her semi-final citing injury. She clocked a seasonal best of 12.84 at La Chaux-de-Fonds.

In June 2014 O'Rourke announced her retirement from athletics.[8]

Personal life[edit]

O'Rourke and her husband, Peter O'Leary, expected their first child in August 2015.[9]

Competition record[edit]

2013 European Athletics Indoor Championships (Gothenburg)

  •  Bronze – 60 m Hurdles (7.95 SB)

2011 European Athletics Indoor Championships (Paris)

  • 4th place – 60 m Hurdles (7.96 SB)

2010 IAAF Continental Cup (Split)

2010 European Championships (Barcelona)

2009 World Championships (Berlin)

2009 European Athletics Indoor Championships (Turin)

  •  Bronze – 60 m Hurdles (7.97 SB)

2006 European Championships (Gothenburg)

  •  Silver – 100 m Hurdles (12.72 NR)

2006 World Indoor Championships (Moscow)

  •  Gold – 60 m Hurdles (7.84 NR)

2005 World University Games (Izmir)

2005 World University Games (Izmir)

2003 European Athletics U23 Championships (Bydgoszcz)

  • 4th place – 100 m Hurdles (12.96 NR)

Personal bests[edit]

Event Best (seconds) Location Date
50-metre hurdles 6.80 Liévin, France 3 March 2006
60-metre hurdles 7.84 Moscow, Russia 11 March 2006
100 metres 11.54 Santry, Dublin, Ireland 2005
100-metre hurdles 12.65 Barcelona, Spain 31 July 2010
  • All information taken from IAAF profile.[10]

National records[edit]

  • Outdoor
    • 100 metres hurdles – 12.65 (Barcelona, 31 July 2010)
  • Indoor
    • 60 metres hurdles – 7.84

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Athletic Association of Ireland – Senior Women's Indoor Records Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  2. ^ "Double Delight For Derval" – Report on Athletics Ireland of silver medal winning performance Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  3. ^ (6 March 2009)O'Rourke wins bronze in Turin Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  4. ^ 12th IAAF World Championships in Athletics official results Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  5. ^ "O'Rourke just misses out on medal". RTÉ Sport. 19 August 2009. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  6. ^ "O'Rourke surpasses all expectations". 19 August 2009. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  7. ^ "O'Rourke returns home with silver medal". Raidió Teilifís Éireann. 3 August 2010. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  8. ^ "Derval O'Rourke announces retirement after record breaking career". Irish Independent. 23 June 2014. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  9. ^ "Derval O'Rourke talks pregnancy cravings, baby names and parenting tips from Irish rugby players". 15 April 2015. Archived from the original on 16 April 2015. Retrieved 21 April 2015.
  10. ^ O'Rourke Derval Biography. IAAF. Retrieved 16 October 2019.

External links[edit]