Ciarán Ó Lionáird is an Irish runner from Cork. He competed at the 2012 Summer Olympics in the 1500 metres.At the 2013 European Athletics Indoor Championships in March, he came 3rd in the Men’s 3000 metres.
Ciaran grew up just outside of Macroom, County Cork, Ireland. He attended De La Salle College, Macroom, where he was an Irish Schools 1500 metre champion. Ciaran first took up running at age 7 with West Muskerry AC, but at age 12 joined Leevale to become coached by Der O’Donovan. It was at Leevale that Ciaran improved his times and ran a Irish Youths indoor record of 3:50 at age 16. He went on to win a bronze medal at the European Youth Olympic Festival in Lignano in 2005 as well as taking 10th place in the World Youth Championships, both over the metric mile.
College/FSU 2011 Breakthrough
In 2006, having finished school, Ciaran decided to take up a scholarship at the University of Michigan under Coach Ron Warhurst. After numerous season-ending injuries (osteitis-pubis, L5 disc herniation, hip bursitis) he decided to transfer to Florida State University in 2009. A recurrence of Ciaran’s back disc injury in 2010 led to 6 months on the sidelines and with surgery imminent, he thought his running career might well be over. However, he battled through a summer of intense therapy and came back in the Autumn of 2010 to become All American at the NCAA XC Championships.
In 2011 however, the big breakthrough came on the track with massive PBs in every distance. He broke the 1500 and 5k ACC records in helping FSU to the ACC Outdoor Track Championships, and during the European Track season he attained the World Championships Qualifying Standard with the 4th fastest Irish time ever over 1500m (3:34.46). That was in addition to personal best performances over the mile (3:57.99), 3k (7:50) and 5k (13:33). At the World Championships in Daegu Ciaran progressed through a tactical first round and ran 3:36 in the semi-final to make the World’s final in his first Major Championship appearance.
In the final, he placed 10th and although it was not the result he wanted, it illustrated how far he has come with just one year of healthy, consistent running and provided him with valuable experience ahead of the London Olympics in 2012.