Savanagh O'Callaghan Makes History at the 2024 Penn Relays

May 30, 2024

Savanagh O'Callaghan, a promising young athlete from Tuam AC, has etched her name in the history books by becoming the first non-US athlete to win the High School girls 5,000m Race Walk at the prestigious Penn Relays. The event, held in Philadelphia, USA, at the end of April, is the largest athletics meet in the United States, drawing nearly 100,000 fans and 15,000 athletes over three days.

Having featured Savanagh in our Next Generation series back in January, we here at Run Republic said that we were looking forward to following her journey throughout 2024 and beyond. Just over 4 months later, we are back to feature this budding star once again.

O'Callaghan's victory is remarkable, considering she was returning from a two-month layoff due to a torn achilles tendon. Her winning time not only secured her the Penn Relays High School title but also marked her second occasion meeting the European U18 Qualification standard, solidifying her status as a top contender in Race Walking.

Savanagh shared with us that her aims for 2024 were simply to stay injury free and healthy in 2024 while continuing to improve and enjoy athletics and, despite a difficult injury, it looks as though the Tuam AC starlet is certainly improving!

The triumph at Penn Relays holds special significance for O'Callaghan, as it came 30 years after her father and coach, Pierce O'Callaghan, competed in the same event. Pierce finished second in the Junior Men’s 10,000m Race Walk in 1994, representing UCD. This familial achievement underscores the legacy of athletic excellence in the O'Callaghan family.

Savanagh O'Callaghan Penn Relays

With her victory, Savanagh O'Callaghan has now completed a remarkable grand slam of titles, having already become the All Ireland Schools Intermediate Champion, Tailteann Games Champion, and International Schools Champion. Impressively, she is still young enough to defend all these titles this summer, showcasing her sustained dominance in race walking.

Her success at the Penn Relays has brought immense pride to her school, High Cross College, and her club, Tuam AC. In recognition of her outstanding achievements, she was awarded the overall Sportstar of the Year at High Cross College, an accolade typically reserved for sixth-year students. Her victory has also galvanised the local community in Tuam, leading to a promise from the government to provide land for a new 400m track for her club.

O'Callaghan's win has garnered significant media attention. She has been interviewed by Galway Bay FM, the Tuam Herald, and the Connacht Tribune, and received a personalised letter of congratulations from Minister Anne Rabbitte TD. Additionally, she was interviewed by FloSports in the US following her triumphant performance.

Savanagh O'Callaghan post Penn Relays
Interview with FloSports after the race

The Penn Relay organisers have already extended an invitation for O'Callaghan to return in 2025 to defend her title, a testament to her exceptional talent and the impact of her historic win.

Savanagh O'Callaghan's journey continues as she looks forward to defending her titles and breaking new ground in the world of Race Walking, and Run Republic are excited to follow the trajectory of this brilliant athlete's career in the sport.

Featured Image: Courtesy of Pierce O'Callaghan. Copyright Penn Relays

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