University of Arkansas unveil new Frank O’Mara Track and Field High Performance Centre

The division 1 college named their new high performance centre after three-time olympian and alumni Frank O’Mara, who originally hails from Limerick city.

The University of Arkansas is known partly for its stellar contributions to the sport of track and field, producing a number of olympians, paralympians and world champions over the years.

More recently, the university unveiled their new high performance centre, specifically for the training and development of the colleges track and field athletes. What makes this facility so interesting to us here in Ireland, is the name the facility bares.

17 August 1985; Frank O’Mara, left, Marcus O’Sullivan, Ray Flynn and Eamonn Coghlan, right, who broke the world 4 x 1mile relay record in a time of 15:49:99. Picture credit; Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE

Frank O’Mara (Left) was born in Limerick in 1960, O’Mara soon discovered his talent and love for long distance running when he placed 3rd in the All-Ireland 400m at the age of 10.

As a secondary school student in Limerick’s St Munchins College, O’Mara won the Irish schools 1500m with the championship record of 3:58.2. O’Mara then accepted a scholarship to the University of Arkansas, where he went on to become only the third Irishman to ever win the NCAA 1500m.

During his collegiate career, O’Mara was on the University of Arkansas’ first ever team to win a Championship of America title in the Penn Relays, where he anchored the distance medley relay. He also anchored the 4 × 1500m relay team to victory and was named the Penn Relays’ most valuable track performer.

After a gleaming college career, O’Mara was inducted into the University of Arkansas Sports Hall of Honor in 1997. Having appeared in three olympic games and winning at the US Indoor and World Indoor Championships as a professional, the five time Irish Champion O’Mara was inducted into the Irish Athletics Hall of Fame in 2015.

Establishing a phenomenal legacy upon his retirement from the sport in 1994, Frank O’Mara’s impact on the sport and his alma mater continues to grow. With the unveiling of the Frank O’Mara High Performance Centre at the University of Arkansas, this Limerick natives legacy will continue to inspire all of those who follow in his footsteps.

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Benjamin Geary