Paul Donovan attended school in Galway where he played Gaelic football, soccer, and rugby, but turned to running after he was introduced to it for training for Gaelic football. He attended the University of Arkansas in the USA on a track scholarship, where he studied accounting and data processing. While there he won three indoor NCAA titles, in the 1985 1,500 metres, the 1986 3,000 metres and with the 1986 Arkansas medley relay team. At the inaugural World Athletics Indoor Championships in 1987, Donovan won a silver medal in the 3,000, but a knee injury kept from the 1988 Olympics. He came back in 1990 and made the 1992 Irish Olympic team but failed to get out of the heats of the 5,000. Donovan won two Irish titles in the 5K, in 1990 and 1993. In 1998 he was inducted into the University of Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame.
Personal Bests: 1500 – 3:38.31 (1984); 5000 – 13:23.16 (1992).