With the IAAF Track and Field World Championships wrapping up this past weekend, I figured it would be a great time to reflect on Villanova's two (Irish) World Outdoor Track & Field Champions. The World Championships have only been around since 1983, so that would explain the relatively small number compared to Villanova's Olympic gold medalists.
In 1983, Eamonn Coghlan was arguably the biggest star in all of Ireland. Earlier in that season, he set the world record in the indoor mile at the Meadowlands. His biggest accomplishment that year however, was when he became the first ever World Track and Field Champion in the 5000m run at Helsinki. After learning the news of Eamonn's championship, Bono interrupted the U2 concert that evening in Dublin to announce to the crowd that he had won a world championship.
In the mid-90's, Sonia O'Sullivan (no relation to Marcus) was to Ireland what Eamonn was a decade earlier, only better. In 1995, she won the first ever women's 5000m race at the World Championships in Gothenburg, and looked to be in prime position to medal in the Atlanta Olympics. Unfortunately, she disappointed when she was struck with a gastrointestinal illness (one of the primary uses for Pepto Bismol, and something that I refuse to believe exists in women) and failed to medal. She was able to redeem herself four years later when she won a silver medal at the Sydney Olympics, the most recent individual Olympic medal by a Villanova graduate.