‘Sportswomanship’ is alive and well

Even if you were not glued to the screen during this year’s Commonwealth Games, it’s unlikely you missed seeing the Australians who competed in the 10,000m women’s final. While no Australian won a medal, all three won hearts when they waited trackside to welcome Lesotho’s Lineo Chaka, the final athlete to finish the event.  

One of the three, Celia Sullohern, has a strong Hunter connection. “I moved to Newcastle to study a Bachelor of Physiotherapy, which took me back to where my Dad grew up and where my extended O'Hearn family lives. During this time I met and started training with my current coach, Scott Westcott.”

Celia was raised in the Blue Mountains with her older brother, Brendan. “We were blessed to live on the edge of the national park and were outdoors all the time. I grew up playing anything and everything and followed my brother and Dad into the running world.” 

While Celia’s rise in the athletics world had been consistent, her entry into the Commonwealth Games was not anticipated. “Qualifying for the Games was not a ‘dream come true’ because I hadn't even dreamt of it! I achieved a qualifying standard in the marathon but was out of the rankings. I raced my first track race in three years at the national 10,000m championship as a fun way to end the season and was shocked to win ‒ followed by another complete surprise in the 5000m.”

Celia describes the Games as “surreal...and overwhelming in every way. The roar of the crowd, the emotion of stepping out for the Opening Ceremony in green and gold and the buzz of the village and Team Aus are memories that will last a lifetime. I have been particularly touched by the outpouring of support and congratulations from so many people!”

And that trackside moment? “It was purely instinct, rather than any planning or discussion, for the Aussie girls to wait for the last competitor to finish. This camaraderie and respect is something I believe is instilled in Australian running at all levels and I am really proud to have been able to share this on the world stage.”

While she now lives and works in private practice on the north coast, Celia maintains her connection to family and friends in the Hunter. She also maintains her commitment to good ‘sportswomanship’.

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Tracey Edstein Image
Tracey Edstein

Tracey Edstein is the editor of Aurora Magazine, the official magazine of the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.

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