By Mark Jones
A showdown at the World Indoor track and field championships between Sonia O’Sullivan and Gabriela Szabo is brewing. The Romanian, who ran O’Sullivan into the silver medal position at the Sydney Olympics, broke the world indoor record for the 3,000 meters with a time of 8 minutes, 32.88 in Birmingham, England, last weekend, while O’Sullivan was registering an outdoor victory over the same distance in Australia in a less impressive time of 8:49.87.
The two are on course to meet in Lisbon in just over a fortnight in what should be another memorable confrontation.
Even if the media speculation signaled a close run contest, Pat Hickey was reelected as president of the Olympic Council of Ireland by a landslide margin in Dublin last week. Hickey, who has been in charge of the OCI since 1989, defeated businessman Richard Burrows to secure another four-year term.
While all the indications were of a success for the controversial and confrontational Hickey, who had several highly publicized arguments with the Minister for Sport, Jim McDaid, the Irish Sports Council, and other sporting bodies such as the Athletics Association of Ireland, many sections of the media had Burrows closing the gap in the days before the vote.
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While Hickey’s OCI no longer has control over funding for the Olympic Games, that has since passed to the Sports Council. However, his council still has the responsibility for selecting the athletes who will compete in Athens in 2004.