The Shape I'm In: Getting in gear with Seán Kelly

The Shape I'm In: Getting in gear with Seán Kelly
Former cyclist Sean Kelly, and Naoise Dooley at the launch of this years 19th Tour de Munster Charity cycle. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

He's one of the most successful cyclists of the 1980s and is regarded as one of the greatest classics riders. And Seán Kelly has no intention of putting the bike away yet.

He still gets a buzz from cycling the roads and mountains around his Co Waterford home and it remains a primary form of fitness when he’s not travelling to the Tour de France and other leading races as part of his commentary work with Eurosport.

A long-standing supporter of the Tour de Munster charity cycle, he will once again get on the saddle by joining the tour and over 120 amateur cyclists from August 8 to 11 in Munster.

Celebrating its 19th year this August, the annual Tour de Munster charity cycle will see participants travel 600km in the six counties, raising vital funds and awareness for the Munster branches of Down Syndrome Ireland and individual beneficiaries.

The 2019 Tour de Munster will also celebrate the 10th year of its partnership with Down Syndrome Ireland Munster branches and has raised over €2.3m alone for the charity since 2010.

“The Tour of Munster is great because it gives you a target,” said Seán. “It’s 150km every day for four days so you need to do a bit of work in the months leading up to it,” he said, adding that he will be getting back in the saddle to put some kilometres in after returning from his reporting role at cycling’s biggest contest, the Tour De France.

“I’d still try and get out when I’m not away. When I have free time I try and get out on the bike about three times a week, ” said Seán.

Sean at last year's Tour de Munster.
Sean at last year's Tour de Munster.

He has been involved with the event for many years. “It’s an important one because they raise great money for charities. It’s getting more popular every year though numbers are pretty much the same.

“There’s a huge amount of organisation to do all the accommodation over four days. There’s a lot of logistical work involved,” said Seán.

A passionate fan of the sport, he is delighted that cycling is growing as an activity in Ireland.

“It seemed to take off when there was a crash in the economy. People had more time on their hands and there was also a focus on exercising and being healthy. The cycle-to-work scheme helped.

People who were having injuries in other sports were turning to cycling. It’s great for fitness but very low-impact. It’s a brilliant way to see a lot of the countryside.

What shape are you in?

Physically, for somebody over 60, I’m happy with my physical shape, but I do work on it. I look at my nutrition as well especially if I’m working and not exercising. As an athlete, when you retire you can go out of shape very quickly.

What are your healthiest eating habits?

I love salads, and I eat them a lot.

What are your guiltiest pleasures?

Chocolate and sweets. I would have a very sweet tooth and I try and watch it but break occasionally.

What would keep you awake at night?

Too much coffee late in the evening or at night-time. I’d be a good sleeper overall. I’ve seen some riders who would struggle to wind down after a race but I’ve never had that problem. The more sleep you can get, the better, as it helps you recover.

How do you relax?

I’m relaxed all the time. When you’re competing it can be more difficult.

Back in the day, I read the papers to relax.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

I look up to a lot of people in various types of sport.

Rafa Nadal would be a big one. Footballers like Messi, I’m going for the real high ones!

What’s your favourite smell?

Freshly baked scones.

What would you like to change about your appearance?

There’s nothing that I'd like to change, but I’d like to hold on to what I have at the moment for the next 20 years. I’d sign up for that.

When is the last time you cried?

At a funeral recently.

What traits do you least like in others?

Not being honest.

What traits do you least like about yourself?

Nothing that I can think of. That’s a question somebody else will have to answer.

Do you pray?

I wouldn’t be a person that would pray regularly but there are occasions when I go to a funeral or to church that I would pray.

What would cheer up your day?

If I could continue on as I am at the moment.

My fitness and wellbeing are very important to me.

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