TOP amateur golfer Leona Maguire has her sights set firmly on the Olympics in Rio this summer. Her timing couldn’t be better: it’s the first time golf has been included as an Olympic sport since 1904.
“The Olympics are the pinnacle of any sport and it would be a huge honour to play. I have a chance to make the team, so obviously it’s a goal of mine this year,” she says.
A second-year psychology student at Duke University in the US, she shares a dormitory with her (non-identical) twin sister Lisa, also a talented golfer.
Tavelling with her sister made the move from Cavan to Carolina all the easier. “The fact that we grew up doing everything together, playing sport together, it definitely helped with the adjustment and it wasn’t such a big step,” says the 21-year-old.
Close as they are, a competitive spirit is never far from the surface. “We are playing against each other all the time. There is definitely a little bit of a rivalry there but it is a friendly one.”
n Leona and Lisa work closely with the Confederation of Golf in Ireland to encourage more people to try golf. CGI runs a variety of ‘Get into Golf’ programmes in golf clubs nationwide — see www.cgigolf.org for details.
What shape are you in?
I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been. I’ve improved my golf skills since starting at the University of Duke, gaining 20 yards off the tee and becoming more stable over the ball than I used to be. I workout with my team and our strength and conditioning coach four times a week. We do a combination of cardio conditioning, weight training and flexibility work, to ensure our bodies are in optimum condition for playing.
What are your healthiest eating habits?
I make sure that I eat plenty of protein such as chicken, lean meat, fish and eggs and try to avoid processed foods. Growing up, we rarely went to fast-food restaurants, so I never really developed a taste for that kind of food, which is helpful. I try to have as much colour or fruits and vegetables on my plate as possible to maximise the amount of vitamins and minerals I’m getting.
What are your guiltiest pleasures?
I like whipped ice-cream and cookies but I don’t eat them that often, just as a treat every now and again. I’m not a fan of the chocolate in the US so I rarely eat any unless someone sends over a bar of Cadbury Dairy Milk in the post.
What would keep you awake at night?
Usually I don’t struggle with falling asleep but there is a train that goes by campus around 5am every morning that normally wakes me.
How do you relax?
I’m an easy-going person, so I usually don’t have trouble relaxing. It’s finding the time to relax given my hectic schedule that is often the issue. I’m sports mad, so I love going to basketball games or watching my friends play soccer and lacrosse at Duke. My friends and I go to the movies quite often too, or get together to watch Netflix in some of our dorm rooms.
Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
Some sports stars like Katie Taylor and Serena Williams. Jennifer Lawrence and The Hunger Games cast, Rebel Wilson, Channing Tatum and Luke Bryan for some comedy and entertainment. And, of course, my friends and family.
What’s your favourite smell?
I love the smell of freshly cut grass and also walking into the kitchen when Mam is baking.
What would you like to change about your appearance?
I would like to be a bit taller. I’m 5’ 6” and I think 5’ 9” would be a nice height.
When is the last time you cried?
Saying goodbye to family and friends when I left to go back to the US in August.
What traits do you least like in others?
Laziness and complacency, being self-centred or two-faced.
What traits do you least like about yourself?
I am usually very organised and meticulous, especially when it comes to school and sport, but I have the tendency to be a little untidy when it comes to my bedroom, my twin sister Lisa gives me a hard time about it.
Do you pray?
I pray every day. My faith is something that is very important to me.
What would cheer up your day?
My friends always know what to say or do to cheer me up. Spending time with my family is extra special now that I live 5,000 miles away for most of the year.
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