Killarney Valley AC sprinter Sarah Leahy clocked a PB and reached the final of the 100 metres at the National Senior Championships in Dublin last weekend.
Adam Moynihan caught up with the 21-year-old to discuss her impressive performances, and her subsequent call-up to the Ireland U23 squad.
Hi Sarah. Congrats on your recent success. What were your expectations going into the National Senior Championships and how did things pan out on the day?
Thanks. I didn’t have too many expectations really. My first goal was to get another PB – the two weeks prior I was getting one every time I ran. My second one was to make the final. Looking at the names and the times, I wasn’t too sure I was going to make it. But I was delighted that I did make it and I was able to attain both my goals.
You have been selected to represent Ireland at the European U23 Championships (4x100m). When did you find out about that and how did you react?
I found out on Sunday night when I came back from Dublin. I was over the moon. I probably ran faster down the stairs to tell my parents than I did in the 100 metres! My brother heard me roaring about it in the next room.
And was your selection a direct result of your performances over the weekend?
Very much so. Three weeks ago, nobody really knew who I was. My name wasn’t in the mix at all because I hadn’t been running. Then my name kind of came up at the AAI Games, and at the U23 Championships I got a glimmer of hope that I might be in the mix. Running well at senior definitely helped. That’s what pushed me over the line.
It must be a proud moment for you and your family?
It has been a dream of mine for years. I didn’t really think about it this year because I had just come back (to running – Sarah had been playing with the Kerry ladies up until last year). I didn’t think it was an option because I didn’t think I’d be running this well. It’s a dream come true. I can’t wait, I’m so excited.
You will be competing in the 4x100m. Do you have any experience with this type of race?
I did the mixed relay at the Community Games years ago and we got a silver medal one year and a bronze another year. So I have some experience with the relay.
The championships are on in Estonia from July 8-11. Are you looking forward to getting over there?
Yeah, I didn’t realise how close it was. We’re leaving in like a week.
And what about your teammates (Gina Akpe-Moses, Aoife Lynch, Lauren Roy and Molly Scott)? Would you know them well from competing against them?
I would, yes. They are elite athletes and they have all ran for Ireland multiple times already. Two of them were in the World Relays there a few months ago in the 4x200m and they came second. So they have a lot of experience and I can’t wait to run with them.
What will be the team’s goal heading over to Estonia?
We’re having a meeting on Friday (today) so we’ll find out then. I’m sure the aim will be to run as fast as we can and aim for a medal.
Is it challenging switching over from 100m to the relay?
I don’t think it should be too hard, although there is a bit more pressure. Obviously, the baton change is highly important in a relay. If you mess that up, it can mess up your time and your placing. But overall the relay can drive you to run even faster because you’re not just running for yourself, it’s for your whole team. Especially now with Ireland… You’re representing a lot more than just yourself. But yeah, [running the 4x100m] shouldn’t be too much of a difference. Don’t drop the baton is the main thing really!
In terms of training, what does your weekly schedule look like?
I do a bit of gym during the week and I train four times – Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday – all at the Killarney Valley AC Arena. I train with a whole pile of athletes in the sprint and jump group. I’m one of the oldest there. They’re all very dedicated and very fun, I’m really enjoying the training at the moment. Tomás Griffin is my coach and he’s excellent. Obviously the training he’s doing with me is definitely working. It’s all very enjoyable. It doesn’t seem like hard work.
Has the new track benefitted you and your training?
100%. The track was one of the main things that made me go back to athletics. It’s so handy, I can be down in training in five minutes. Before, we were training on grass or we were driving to Castleisland. The track is of huge benefit. A lot of work went into it and I can’t praise the people involved enough.
Athletics can be very technical. Is there any aspect of your running that you feel you need to work on?
I think there’s plenty! My trainers are very nice, they think I’m running well. But me and my mom see a few things. My arms could be improved, and things like lifting up my knees. When I look at myself compared to the other athletes, I feel like I look a bit silly. They’re so perfect technically. I have plenty to work on, which is exciting because when I get those things improved, I should be going even faster.
And looking ahead to the future, after Estonia, what are your long-term goals?
I suppose the typical answer for every young athlete is the Olympics. Right now, I would say that’s the dream rather than a goal. For the next year, I have PBs I want to get to and new times I want to reach. And hopefully, after experiencing it next week, I’ll get to represent Ireland again.
Public welcome to see Kilcummin’s new state-of-the-art facilities
By Michelle Crean With brand new dressing rooms, a state-of-the-art fitness centre and gym, a referee’s room, a training pitch, and a new walking track, locals are keen to show off their new facilities. Kilcummin GAA Club are now inviting the public to the official opening of their new facilities on Sunday next (October 24). It […]
By Michelle Crean
With brand new dressing rooms, a state-of-the-art fitness centre and gym, a referee’s room, a training pitch, and a new walking track, locals are keen to show off their new facilities.
Kilcummin GAA Club are now inviting the public to the official opening of their new facilities on Sunday next (October 24).
It will kick-off at 2.30pm by County Board Chairman Tim Murphy and all are welcome to attend.
“Members and non-members are welcome to come and take a look around and to be a part of this important occasion,” PRO for the club, Mike O’Riordan, said.
The upgrading of the club facilitates, which started in 2019, was made possible by generous support of club members and supporters from near and far, as well as funding received from the Munster Council and Sports Capital Grants.
The Executive and the Development Committee of the club have worked hard to bring the project to fruition but it is the countless hours of the dedicated and committed volunteers that ensured it became a reality.
“It could not have happened without this collective effort. The new facilities are a huge source of pride for the club and local community and the official opening is an event to celebrate this huge community project.”
Club officers will be available to chat to anyone interested in memberships of the fitness centre or walking track and club merchandise will be available to purchase on the day. Light refreshments will be served.
“A Céad Míle Fáilte is extended to all,” he said.
Eileen rewarded for her dedication to athletics
By Sean Moriarty Well-known Dalton’s Avenue woman Eileen Switzer has been named as the Honorary President of Killarney Valley Athletic Club in recognition of her work as a volunteer. The club held its annual awards night on Friday night last. As well as presenting awards to club members in recognition of their achievements at home […]
By Sean Moriarty
Well-known Dalton’s Avenue woman Eileen Switzer has been named as the Honorary President of Killarney Valley Athletic Club in recognition of her work as a volunteer.
The club held its annual awards night on Friday night last.
As well as presenting awards to club members in recognition of their achievements at home and abroad they decided to honour Mrs Switzer for her “lifetime of volunteering to the community, to sport, to youth and for championing diversity and inclusion”.
“Eileen has been an advocate, a coach and an administrator in the sport of athletics for over 60 years in the town of Killarney, Kerry and beyond,” said club chair Jerry Griffin.
Eileen and her husband Frank have dedicated their lives to the community games and athletics in the greater Killarney area.
“I enjoy, but I don’t like, all the limelight,” she told the Killarney Advertiser.
“I like to watch newcomers as they come up through the ranks, many of the Community Games people of the past are now running the committee.”
In a life time dedicated to volunteerism in Killarney Eileen has helped sports like golf, pitch and putt and badminton grow. She was also heavily involved in the local Irish dancing scene and remains a great supporter of Kerry Parents and Friends.
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