The shape I'm in: Thomas Barr, athlete

Thomas Barr

TOP Irish athlete Thomas Barr knows the value of staying the course, even when he doesn’t win. 

After he lost out in the 400m hurdle and relay races at the European Athletic Championships in Amsterdam recently, he tweeted the hashtag #outbutnotover.

A tear in the cartilage in his hip has affected his game over the past few years. 

“It irritates the muscles and the joint around it so it gets inflamed and angry and all the muscles around it tighten up — obviously I am not able to run when it’s that bit angry,” he says.

This year the injury lingered for longer. 

“Days turned into weeks and then to months and then it ended up being 12 weeks out of training entirely and off the track — the year that’s in it you’d want to do as much training as possible — to be in good shape come the Euros and the Olympic games.

“It’s pretty frustrating but I’m of getting back on track now.”

Aged 23 and single, he is originally from Dunmore East in Co Waterford. His older sister, by three years to the day, is also a track and field athlete, representing Ireland in the 2012 Olympics.

“Unfortunately, Jessie has had to call it a day because of injury — she was just getting back on form but strained her Achilles’ tendon.”

He is philosophical about the highs and lows of professional sport. 

“It’s all or nothing — there are a lot of bad days; but those one or two good moments make up for it.” 

* Thomas Barr is a brand ambassador for Wellman Sport.

What shape are you in?

I’m not in prime shape at the moment. I’m probably 70% of my best. I train an hour and a half to two hours in the morning and the same again in the evening. 

I do track, technical and strength and conditioning — a lot of medicine ball exercises and core exercises are mixed up in that and rehabilitation for my hip injury.

What are your healthiest eating habits?

Avoiding all those bad sugary treats — and taking supplements. 

I did a masters in sports performance and a big part of what I took for myself was the nutrition side of things. I really started to look after my diet a lot better. 

I’m big into making sure I’m getting the right balance of macro nutrients — protein, carbohydrates — and managing my portion sizes and also timings, eating the right kind of carbohydrates before and after training. 

Diet nearly goes hand in hand with performance with sports. As they say, abs are made in the kitchen.

What are your guiltiest pleasures?

My downfall is Nutella on toasted white bread — it’s something I’ve grown up with. And Haribos.

What would keep you awake at night?

Nothing really. I sleep anywhere between seven and nine hours a night. 

Usually just before I go to bed, I take a look at Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, or whatever on the phone. It’s a bad habit.

How do you relax?

I recently bought a PlayStation so I’m using that a lot — playing Call of Duty with my housemates. I’m also big into cars. 

I’m renting a garage near my house in Limerick. So I spend a lot of time out there tinkering with cars. 

At the moment, myself and a friend have gotten into drift car racing — we are working on old BMWs.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

I don’t get to see my family that often, so I think a Sunday roast at home with my granny Breda at the table as well.

What athlete do you most admire?

The hurdler Felix Sanchez, who recently retired in his mid-30s. He was at the top of his game — Olympic and world champion — the best athlete in 400m hurdling in the past decade. He always maintained a real gentlemanly manner and never got ahead of himself.

What would you like to change about your appearance?

The grey hair — I started getting them when I was 17 or 18. It doesn’t really bother me that much. I think it’s in the genes.

When is the last time you cried?

I shed a tear after the relay [at the European Championships]. We were .07 of a second off qualification for Rio. 

It was pretty emotional and very disappointing, but we did still finish fifth overall which is not to be sniffed at either.

What traits do you least like in others?

Cockiness and greed.

What traits do you least like about yourself?

Sometimes I can be a bit selfish. I rather I wasn’t but nobody’s perfect.

Do you pray?

I wouldn’t be that religious.

What would cheer up your day?

The sun, immediately.


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