In our new series, ‘Showcase your Sport’, in association with the Irish Federation of Sport, we will be giving you a thorough insight into some of the most fascinating sports we have in Ireland.
This week, our focus is on Athletics, and taking part in our Q&A is Under-18 European gold medallist, Sarah Healy.
When did you take up athletics?
I took up athletics when I was eight years old when my Mum brought my sister to Blackrock Athletics Club. We thought I was too young to join at the time but they let me take part and I’ve kept it up ever since.
Who was your inspiration growing up?
Growing up I wasn’t that interested in athletics and the only famous athlete I knew of was Usain Bolt. I do remember watching a documentary about Sonia O’Sullivan when I was fourteen or fifteen and being blown away by everything she had achieved. I had obviously heard her name before that, but I never realised the extent of her success.
What does a normal training week look like for you?
My training varies from week to week. When I was in school it would constantly be changing as my coach would have to adapt it to fit in with my school schedule and other sports.
Now I run six or seven days a week with sessions on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, easy runs the other days, and a long run on Sunday. I also do strength and conditioning twice a week.
What is your favourite memory/proudest moment from athletics career?
It’s hard to pick one favourite memory as there have been great moments at ever stage so far. The European Youth Championships in 2018 were definitely a highlight because I never planned on racing two events and so it was amazing to be able to pull it off.
I won my first-ever national title when I was ten in the Curragh, and I’ll always remember how shocked my whole family and I were, so that’s definitely a special memory.
In terms of schools athletics, I won the SIAB cross country race in Scotland when I was in third year and I’ll always remember how proud I was that day because it was the first race I won in an Irish singlet.
Best thing about being involved in the sport in Ireland?
The best thing about being involved in the sport in Ireland is the community. There is always so much support from home when we are competing abroad and at domestic races, there is such a friendly atmosphere which I enjoy.
Favourite competition to take part in?
I’m not sure that I have a favourite competition to take part in but I enjoy any competition where I feel confident and excited to compete. I do like racing in Ireland, especially cross country so maybe nationals or the Schools All-Ireland.
Do you believe the sport has grown in Ireland?
I definitely think the sport has grown in Ireland recently. There has been lots of underage success in recent years across many different events and I think this has created great coverage for the sport.
What would you like to see done to grow the sport?
I would like to see more young people getting involved in athletics in their schools and clubs as well as seeing more coverage of the inspiring stories and people, of which there are so many in athletics.
What would you like to achieve in the sport?
I would like to compete internationally for Ireland at the senior level as well as running as fast as I can over 1500m. Ultimately, like any athlete, I would love to win medals for Ireland and compete at the Olympics.
Why should people get involved in athletics?
You will get so much satisfaction and fulfilment out of improving personally and also learn skills like discipline and commitment which are so applicable to general life. Fitness from athletics will improve your performance in any other sport that you take part in.
Most importantly, it’s a fun and friendly sport where you can make amazing memories.