Track & Field

Fifth in ten-part series: Liam O’Brien a specialist in steeplechase and longevity

Fifth in ten-part series highlighting the best Irish masters performances.

In July 1995, 1984 Olympian Liam O’Brien ran an impressive 8.48.65 for 3000 metres steeplechase (M40-44) at the World Masters in Tailinn, Finland. This Irish masters record has stood for more than twenty years with no sign of being touched by an Irish masters runner. In fact, that masters record is fast enough to regularly earn a medal for competitors in the Irish National Senior championships.

O’Brien, a now retired Midleton CBS teacher, has a lifetime best of 8:27.24 (1984). That same year he advanced to the semi-final at the Los Angeles Olympics. The versatile O’Brien had a wide range as a middle distance runner but started out as a 400- and 800-metre runner before he focused on his speciality that included 11 national steeplechase titles between 1977 and 1994 (at age 39). This was an era in which he regularly battled 1988 Olympian Brendan Quinn as well as his county cohorts Joe Hartnett and Kieran Stack.

O’Brien was quoted in the Sunday Independent on November 12, 2011, in a Where Are They Now feature:

“It’s a very specific event. I found out pretty quickly I could beat people in the steeplechase that might often beat me on the flat. There is a little bit of technique involved in it; you’re jumping up over barriers, landing and absorbing shock and I was just able to do it. It suited me,” O’Brien said.

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