Cathy O’Brien

Marathon – 1988 Olympics, Seoul, South Korea & 1992 Olympics, Barcelona, Spain

Crowds cheered as Cathy O’Brien raced across the line, the first American to finish in the 1992 Summer Olympics Women’s Marathon in Barcelona, Spain. This would be Cathy’s second Olympic marathon, having previously completed the 1988 Olympic Marathon in Seoul, South Korea. 

A resident of Dover, NH, Cathy was a phenom as a youth, competing for Dover High School starting in 7th grade. She won the Class, State, and New England cross country Championships five consecutive times from 8th to 12th grade. 

She was the 1984 Footlocker National Champion her senior year and a four-time finalist. In 1984, as a 16-year-old junior in high school, she competed in the first-ever Olympic Trials Marathon for Women in Olympia, Washington. She finished in 9th place and set a world junior marathon record. She also set the record for the high school girls’ 3000-meter race at Penn Relays, which stands today over 35 years later.

In addition to her Olympic Marathons, some of Cathy’s highlights included: winning the 1991 Los Angeles Marathon, setting the world record for 10 miles at the Bobby Crim 10-miler in 1989, winning the infamous Peach Tree road race in 1990, and earning a silver medal in the 10k at the 1990 Goodwill Games.

Cathy retired from racing in 1996. She lives in Durham, NH, and works as an orchestra conductor at Berwick Academy and a private strings instructor. She has two sons, Patrick and Andrew, and is married to Michael O’Brien. 

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