Five-time Paralympic champion and NSW Institute of Sport (NSWIS) scholarship holder Evan O’Hanlon OAM has called time on his 18-year international career, retiring as an Australian great with a collection 19 major medals at the Paralympic Games and World Para Athletics Championships.
The four-time Paralympian who has long been a face of global para athletics concedes the time is right to hang up his spikes.
“At the World Championships this year when I didn’t run too well in the heats, I knew that it was the end of the road. I thought I could pull something out in the final but I crossed the line in last place which was really disappointing for me,” O’Hanlon said.
“The emotion is still there, I wanted to win every time I stood on the track. I can just see a little bit wider outside of athletics now because I have a family and two businesses.”
Making a name for himself at the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing, O’Hanlon blazed his way to three gold medals and three world records in the sprint treble (100m T38, 200m T38, 4x100m T35-38), becoming the first athlete in history with cerebral palsy to shatter 11-seconds over 100m.
His golden streak continued through the London 2012 Paralympic Games where O’Hanlon once again shone with the individual sprint double to back up results from Beijing and the 2011 IPC World Championships in Christchurch, forming a reputation as one of the sport’s fiercest competitors.
“Standing on the start line, I could always convince myself that I was going to win. That’s a big part of sprinting and especially the 100m, you don’t have time to adjust because you are just executing a plan and you have to be confident in that plan,” O’Hanlon said.
After a dominant decade, O’Hanlon’s claimed silver medal at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games before bouncing back in style, to claim global glory at the 2017 IPC World Championships; encouraged and motivated all the way by his career-long coach Iryna Dvoskina.
“Iryna is as proud of me as I am of what she has been able to achieve with myself and other athletes. I see what she does every day and I don’t think many people outside of sport see what coaches and athletes go through,” O’Hanlon said.
“I’m very thankful for the help I got from people like Iryna and (Paralympic gold medallist) Heath Francis, who I call my athletics big brother, and also my family. Together they taught me how to be a professional athlete and push Paralympic sport forward.”
Most proud of qualifying for the Tokyo Paralympic Games while living in the Czech Republic with wife Zuzana and kids Ursula and Alfred, O’Hanlon was able to mature and be coached via correspondence despite two foot surgeries – ultimately going on to win bronze at the Games in the 100m T38, before grabbing onto gold for the last time at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
The time was also spent juggling a career in bobsleigh during which he reached the able-bodied World Championships.
Athletics Australia General Manager – High Performance, Andrew Faichney echoed O’Hanlon’s status as a champion of Australian and global athletics.
“Evan retires as one of our most successful Paralympians ever, forging an amazing career since he first stepped onto a Championship track in 2005. His single-minded determination and professional application to his training and competition meant he was unstoppable in his T38 sprint events over a ten-year period,” Faichney said.
“His partnership with his coach Iryna Dvoskina was as tight as any athlete and coach pairing. His gold medal performances at the Paralympic Games, World Championships and Commonwealth Games will live on in the memories of athletics fans and have been personal highlights for me to witness. Congratulations to Evan on all his many successes and his retirement as one of Australia’s great athletes.”
O’Hanlon will now turn his attention to his working on his business ventures Erudite Consulting in the disability access space and Sidetracked Coffee in Newcastle.
Gold – 100m T38 (2008, 2012), 200m T38 (2008, 2012), 4x100m T35-38 (2008)
Silver – 100m T38 (2016)
Bronze – 100m T38 (2021)
World Para Athletics Championships:
Gold – 100m T38 (2011, 2013, 2017), 200m T38 (2011, 2013), 400m T38 (2013), 4x100m T35-38 (2006), 4x400m T35-38 (2006)
Silver – 400m T38 (2011)
Bronze – 100m T38 (2019), 200m T38 (2006), 4x100m T35-38 (2011)
Gold – 100m T38 (2018, 2022)
Article courtesy of Athletics Australia