RACE walker Olive Loughnane reflected on a memorable season yesterday after she topped a year in which she claimed world championship silver in Berlin in May, with a new national record in Russia at the weekend.
The Galway native, now based in Coachford in Co Cork, was back on Leeside to pick up the Boardwalk Bar and Grill Sportsperson of the Month Award after her recent exploits, but the Loughrea AC star insists she will now take it easy after her most successful year.
“I’m winding down now,” says the 33-year-old, “It’s been hectic enough as you can imagine since Berlin. I’m tired of heading away at this stage so I’m just going to chill out for the three weeks I plan to take off.”
But she admits having a silver medal makes all the effort throughout her career worthwhile and she is at last reaping the credit she deserves.
“People do realise — though it mightn’t always make it out there — that we work hard. They see you out there morning after morning and realise the sacrifices we make. But it’s good when it all works out; it’s not everyone manages to end up with something to show for it at the end of it.
“People have always talked about the fact that I had (daughter) Eimear three years ago. And since then I’ve thought less about what I was going to do and more about how I was going to do it. That’s the thing. The first medal is such a big deal, if there is a next one and it’s a mental thing as well. On any given day there are six or seven girls who can medal. And if things go well for me it can be me again and if they don’t it won’t. So I just have to enjoy Berlin while I can,” she says.
Loughnane finished fourth at the IAAF Walking Grand Challenge final in the Russian city of Saransk and it was a fitting finale to a landmark year. Competing over the shorter 10km distance, the Carrabane native was rewarded with an Irish record of 43 minutes 22 seconds, clipping a full seven seconds off the old mark established in Dublin by 2003 World Championship 20km silver medallist Gillian O’Sullivan in 2000. “I was very pleased with my performance, I’d never had a national record before. I’m going to take a few weeks then come back and work on my technique over the winter so I can be a bit cuter in races next year. Then we do it all again.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved