On Olympic debut, Sophie Becker ran the fastest she has ever run, to help Team Ireland’s 4×400 mixed relay team make history. In Japan’s Olympic Stadium, Becker produced a 51.58 second split in humid conditions as Ireland’s relay team set a new National record and booked a place in an Olympic final for the first time ever.
The Irish quartet of Cillín Greene, Phil Healy, Sophie Becker and Chris O’Donnell smashed the national record by four seconds as they clocked 3:12.88 to go where no Irish relay team has ever gone before, an Olympic final.
Speaking after the race, Becker admitted they surpassed all expectations. “We came in here hoping to run 3:14 – we shattered that so delighted! It came together and knocked it out of the bag. I’m just so happy with us all.”
Before heading off to the Games, New Ross’ Becker was confident if everyone performed to the level they are capable of, an Olympic final was on the cards.
“It’s brilliant, said a beaming Becker.
“Running a relay, it’s a team sport and it’s just so nice that everyone on the team is in peak form.
“It gives you great confidence going into it. If everyone has a PB run again in the heat, who knows what can happen. I think the final is definitely achievable for us, so we’re going full force towards that.”
Reaching an Olympic final is the cherry on the cake for Becker who has been building up to this moment for the past few years. The excitement and joy of being selected to represent Team Ireland was something she hadn’t processed before heading off to Tokyo.
“It really hasn’t hit me yet, Becker told Her Sport. It became real obviously when it was officially announced and people were congratulating me but it really doesn’t feel real yet.
Once Becker found out that she was officially on her way to Tokyo, she made sure to share the news with her coaches, family, and social media followers. Since then, the congratulations started to flood in for the 24 year-old’s massive achievement.
“I made my calls to my old coach from home, my family and everything. Since then, the messages have just been flooding in. People are just so nice and supportive, it’s lovely.
8th in the Olympic final!!!— Sophie Becker (@sophiebecker_) July 31, 2021
We gave it our all and we could not be prouder of what we’ve achieved. The first Irish relay team in an Olympic final and a national record to go along with it yesterday!
No doubt, Ireland has a place in world class relay finals☘️
One would assume that there would be nerves heading into an Olympic Games with so much on the line. The relay is unique as it’s about the team. People are relying on you to perform. For Becker to perform on the biggest stage shouldn’t come at a surprise. From her own admission, the pressure motivates her.
After training for 400Ms for 6 years now, consistency is the one thing Becker gives credit to getting her to where she is. Pressure is another thing that motivates her.
“I’ve been training for 400s now for about 6 years and it’s just consistency. I think it’s an event that you really just need lots of miles and practice in your legs and I think finally it just paid off.”
They are off to #Tokyo2020.— Jeremy Lyons (@Jeremy_P_Lyons) July 8, 2021
5 years of blood, sweat, lactic tears & broken bones, been a privilege to have a ringside seat to see these two realise their dreams of becoming Olympians.
Super to have coach team in @dublin_sprint with @Gerard_OD_ & @aideen_sinnott making it happen https://t.co/cZANCpM5qx pic.twitter.com/Fw1iBoWY55
Early this year, Becker was part of the women’s 4x200M relay team which took second place at the World Relay Championships in Poland in May. Soon after, Becker ran a personal best at the Irish Milers Meet in Belfast with a time of 52:32.
“I’m kind of someone who likes a bit of pressure when I’m racing so maybe just having the added pressure of it being an Olympic year just made me run fast when it counted and everything just fell into place.”
There was a double sense of pride for Becker to be sharing the Olympic moment with Dublin Sprint Club teammate, Cillín Greene. The pair have been coached by Jeremy Lyons, Ger O’Donnell and Aideen Sinnott.
“It’s so nice, said Becker.
“I’m not taking it for granted that I’m going over there with Cillín because we’ve had the same successes throughout the years, It’s just nice that he’s actually coming to Tokyo as well. It’s brilliant for the group.
“I mean Jeremy definitely said its possible, ‘You can do it.’
“Getting one of us there is big enough never mind getting two of us there. When it actually happened, I think for Jeremy, it hasn’t hit him yet!”
Becker has become the first Wexford native to represent Team Ireland on the track since Atlanta 1996. The 400M star is delighted to have put New Ross and Wexford on the map in athletics and is also happy to be the second most famous sport star, after Tadhg Furlong!