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Kerry’s fastest ever woman is keeping her feet on the ground

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by Adam Moynihan

Solo athletes aren’t always noted for their humility, at least not outwardly. Operating as an individual requires a lot of self-belief. When you only have yourself to depend on, you need to have absolute faith in your abilities at all times.

While those involved in team sports tend to deflect praise and extol the talents of their colleagues, solo sportspeople project a type of confidence that can sometimes border on arrogance. We often hear pro boxers, golfers, and track and field stars banging on about how great are (the best, even), conveniently ignoring any statistics or rankings that might suggest otherwise.

But how about an athlete who’s the best without even knowing it?

This week I had the honour of inadvertently informing Sarah Leahy that she is the fastest Kerry woman of all time. Yes, you read that right. The 22-year-old Killarney sprinter was caught off guard when I asked her how it felt to be the county’s fastest ever woman. Speaking to me on the phone from a quiet corner of UL’s Glucksman Library, Leahy sounded genuinely surprised when I clarified that her Killarney Valley AC clubmate Jerry Griffin had provided the information.

“Oh… I hope he did the research on that, because I didn’t!"

“I sometimes forget about things like that. I know I’m there for the club and I have my family and other people there supporting me, and it’s kind of a big deal. But I feel like I’m just there to run and enjoy it.”

She certainly enjoyed her most recent outing, the National Indoor Championships in Abbottstown. Having taken silver in the 200m on Saturday, she capped a fine weekend for local athletics by securing bronze in the 60m on Sunday.

Fellow Killarney Valley competitors Jordan Lee and Ciara Kennelly both came sixth in their high jump competitions while the unstoppable David Kenny of Farranfore Maine Valley won gold in the 5,000m walk. Kenny also walked a personal best time of 19.35.37.

As far Leahy was concerned, was there also a tinge of disappointment at how things played out? She flew out of the traps to lead the 200m before being overtaken by Sharlene Mawdsley, and she thought she had finished second in the 60m only for the result to be scrapped due to uncertainty over the start.

Leahy didn’t have her best start in the re-run but she recovered to finish third behind Molly Scott and Lauren Roy. Scott ran a sensational national record time of 7.19.

“On Monday I was definitely emotionally drained to be honest. I didn’t have any emotions because I was so tired,” the engineering student reflected.

“Overall, I was very happy with how things went. But also I felt I had nothing to lose going into it – until I started running. At one point in the 200m I was winning, but I finished second.

“Unfortunately I don’t feel like I did myself justice in the second [60m] race. I didn’t run as well, I didn’t get out of the blocks fast enough. I ended up coming third, just about. I was a bit behind but I managed to claw my way back up there. I wanted to get to my PB of 7.39 again but I got 7.46, which was slightly slower than my time in the heat earlier that day."

That personal best of 7.39 is what makes her the fastest Kerry woman over 60m of all time. Leahy believes that she can go even faster.

“When I go running it’s more about getting PBs for me. I know that there is definitely more in me, so I was a little bit disappointed that Sunday wasn’t the day for that. But at the same time, we’re there to win medals and I guess I did that. I had never won a senior medal before, so I’m delighted.

“The standard of competition was really high. Not just in my races but in all the races. There were loads of Olympians in the men’s and women’s 400m, and obviously Molly Scott got a national record again. It was a mad standard and a fantastic experience.”

Leahy had previously been juggling athletics with GAA commitments but with all of her focus now on sprinting, her progress has been remarkable. In addition to being the fastest Kerry woman ever, she is the 14th fastest Irish woman over 60m ever and 12th fastest over 200m.

Her coaches say they are impressed by what she is doing, but not one bit surprised. She had been singled out as a major prospect as a teenager. Now that she is “all in” on her chosen disciplines, they are confident that she can take it to the next level and compete internationally.

For Leahy’s part, she feels as though is she is “slowly but surely” finding her feet amongst the elite of Irish athletics. Not so long ago she was the new girl. Now she’s starting to feel like she belongs.

“It used to be a lot more intimidating but now a lot of the girls talk to me. I’m kind of getting to know more people and they’re all very nice, and very chatty. Some people tend to be very focused all day but I feel like I do better when I’m having a laugh and making friends.

“I was a bit starstruck when I saw Phil Healy. I haven’t got the courage to talk to her yet! But in general I’ve learned to deal with it more. I just enjoy it, put on a smile and chat away.”

Next on the agenda is the outdoor season, during which Leahy will be gunning for gold in the 100m and 200m.

“I’m very excited about the outdoor season. I think I should be much faster after the training I’ve been doing. I’m much stronger than I used to be; I used to fade a lot. That shouldn’t happen this year.”

There’s a hint of that self-belief we talked about earlier. All the top athletes know full well that as important as it is to be humble, that will only take you so far.

Leahy has more than earned the right to project confidence. She is the fastest Kerry woman ever, after all. And now she knows it.

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How to have the best skincare routine at home

By Jill O’Donoghue from Killarney Toning and Beauty Studio Home care is essential for glowing, youthful skin. It’s like brushing your teeth, it must be done twice a day. Step […]

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By Jill O’Donoghue from Killarney Toning and Beauty Studio

Home care is essential for glowing, youthful skin. It’s like brushing your teeth, it must be done twice a day.

Step one: Cleanse to remove sweat, oil, dirt and other pollutants that your skin naturally collects throughout the day and night. It’s the first step in your skincare routine and shouldn’t be rushed.

How to do it; Cleanse your skin in the morning and in the evening to keep your pores clear and your face fresh. Your cleanser may vary based on skin type, but with all cleansers, the general consensus is to apply them using an upward, circular motion so as to prevent wrinkles from forming. Make sure your hands are clean in order to prevent excess dirt from entering your pores.

Step two: There is a lot of confusion around toner, and when you’re first establishing a daily skincare routine, it may even seem unnecessary. But most experts agree that toning is an important addition to your skin care routine with beneficial effects for your skin. After you cleanse your skin of impurities, toner removes any residue left behind by the cleanser as well as any make-up or oils your cleanser might have missed. The added cleansing effects help prepare your skin to absorb moisturiser and minimise the appearance of pores. Some toners may have PH balancing and antiseptic effects as well. Apply toner right after you have cleansed your skin while it is still damp. The best way to apply it is with a cotton pad or cotton ball, simply soaking cotton pad with toner and wiping upward and out, starting at your neck.

Step 3: Exfoliate. Our skin is constantly shedding millions of skin cells every day, but sometimes those cells can build up on the surface of our skin and need some extra help to be removed. Exfoliating removes these dead skin cells that have accumulated in our pores. If you struggle with blackheads, acne or breakouts, you’re not going to want to miss this step.

It’s best to exfoliate after toning and before moisturising. You should exfoliate one to three times a week, but this depends on your skin type and how it reacts to exfoliation. Experiment and find what works best for you. There are chemical exfoliators and granule exfoliators such as your traditional sugar or salt scrub. Both can be effective tools for removing dead skin cells, but chemical exfoliating ingredients like AHA and BHA are often more effective in getting deep into your pores and removing buildup.

Properly cleansed skin will allow your next steps e.g. serums and moisturisers get to the right layers of the skin where they will be most effective.

For a skincare consultation or more advice just ask Jill on 064 6632966.

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Annual Christmas motorbike charity road run launched

The Kerry Bikers are hosting their annual Christmas Bike Run on December 18. The event will raise funds for St Francis’ Special School at St Mary of the Angels in […]

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The Kerry Bikers are hosting their annual Christmas Bike Run on December 18.

The event will raise funds for St Francis’ Special School at St Mary of the Angels in Beaufort and Eagle Lodge in Tralee.

Now in its sixth year, the run, which is organised by an amalgamation of several Kerry motorcycle clubs under the banner of Kerry Bikers, will visit Killarney.

The run gets underway at 10.30am from Tralee. The first stop off is in Sheahan’s Centra on the Muckross Road where the Tralee group will be joined by local motorcyclists before setting off on a yet to be decided route.

“We will announce the route in Killarney. Last year we went to Killorglin, Farranfore and Castleisland. This year Abbeyfeale and Listowel may be in reach and if so we will make donations to Nano Nagle Special School too,” organiser Dave Foley said.

Over one hundred motorcycles are expected to take part in the run. Last year the full convoy measured 1.6km from start to finish.

“We hope to exceed that this year,” added Foley

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