Sarah Healy: Tracing the Path from Juvenile Success to the Paris Olympics

July 09, 2024

At the recent Diamond League meeting in Paris, Sarah Healy ran an outstanding race that proves she has established herself as force to be reckoned with nationally and internationally at the 1500-metres. Healy has won numerous medals at European Under-18, Under-20, and Under-23 level and will join Sophie O'Sullivan and Ciara Mageean (the 2024 European gold medalist) for the 1500m at the Olympics in Paris.

Early Beginnings and Rise to Prominence

A Monkstown native, Sarah joined Blackrock Athletics Club when she was nine years old, the club her older sister was already a member of. Like many Olympic athletes we have already featured, athletics was not her first love. In an interview with Her Sport in 2020, Sarah recalls, "I didn't like it much back then but I love it now! Athletics got a bit more serious as I got older but I was always just doing it for fun alongside other sports." Like it or love it, she was a protégée from those early years.

She enjoyed national gold medal success from an early age, winning from titles from Cross Country to track from Under-11 to Under-19. In 2017, she achieved international recognition by winning the 1,500m race at the European Youth Olympic Festival in Győr, Hungary. Returning to the same venue a year later, she secured victories in both the 1,500m and 3,000m at the U18 European Championship. By the end of 2018 Healy had established herself as an incredibly talented up-and-coming middle distance athlete both nationally and internationally.

UCD and Sarah’s First Olympics in Tokyo

Healy’s successful streak continued in 2019. She won her sixth consecutive Irish Schools Cross Country title that year, becoming only the second female Irish runner to do so. With her Leaving Cert completed she then claimed silver at U20 Euros in Sweden and at just 18 years old won her first 1,500m senior national title in Santry a week later. In the autumn of 2019, Sarah was awarded an Ad Astra Academic Scholarship at UCD, choosing not to pursue the athletic scholarships likely offered by numerous interested American universities. Speaking to the42.ie at the time she said: “I never seriously considered going, to be honest. I have such a great coach here and I live in Dublin, I don’t have to move or anything to go to college”.

After an incredibly short season due to covid-19, Healy found her form again in 2021. She won her second national title in the 1,500m in Santry that year. She also reached a milestone in her athletics career, qualifying for the 1,500m event at the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics. However, she did not advance from her heat after a challenging race. In an post-race interview with The42.ie, she reflected: “I was obviously so thrilled to be there, but I was disappointed with it, so it is hard to separate the two. I’m still disappointed with it, but I am proud of myself for getting there”. In 2022 she competed at her first European and World Athletics championships as a senior athlete, though not qualifying from the heats of either of those two events.

Paris Qualification and an Impressive 2024 Season

In 2023, Sarah Healy rediscovered her form, enjoying a decorated season. At a meet in Czechia in June she qualified for her second Olympic Games in the 1500m, achieving the Olympic standard with a time of 4:01.75. Just a few weeks later, she claimed silver at the European Athletics U23 Championships, finishing second to Sophie O'Sullivan. Less than three weeks later, she secured her third national senior 1500m title in Santry. She then had a commendable run at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, qualifying for the semi-final. In that semi-final despite not advancing any further she set a new personal best of 3:59.68, shaving nearly two seconds off her previous best.

Following an excellent 2023 season, Sarah entered 2024 in superb shape, with her sights set on making the 1500m final at the World Indoors in Glasgow. During her opening heat, Healy led from the gun, looking at ease and on course to qualify. However, as she glanced over her shoulder near the finish line, she created a gap that allowed another athlete to squeeze through, causing her to lose her footing and fall. She left the Emirates stadium in total shock and disbelief. It would not happen again. At the European championships in Rome she qualified with ease for the 1500m final, though finishing just outside the podium. Three weeks later, she dropped down to the 800m distance for the National Senior Track and Field Championship, winning her first senior national title at that distance.

Her standout moment came this past weekend at the Diamond League meet in Paris, where she reduced her personal best by two seconds and, more notably, recorded the second-fastest Irish time ever for 1500m with a performance of 3:57.46, second only to Ciara Mageean’s national record of 3:55.87.

Conclusion

Sarah Healy's journey from a young runner in South Dublin to a two-time Olympian is marked by consistently performing on both the national and international stage

She is ready to take on the rest of the world at an Olympic final.

We wish her every success.

Related News