Leevale Athletic Club will officially open its new high-performance facility later this summer, and club chairman Donal Murnane is understandably proud of their new training centre.
“Athletics is a very simple sport in some ways,” says Murnane. “Athletes will train outdoors, obviously, but what we can do indoors is technical training.
“I’m talking about pole vault, long jump, hurdles, work with the starting blocks, as well as our strength-and-conditioning work. All of that has gone indoors, so for our field events and technical events, we’re hoping this will give us a big advantage. It makes sense that coaching someone in the high jump, for instance, is a lot easier in nice, dry conditions compared to a dark, wet night outdoors. It’ll allow us to get into a level of detail that we haven’t been able to get into before.
“What we’ve done is install screens on the walls in the facility, so coaches can video the athlete’s technique and then put it on-screen so they can see what they’re doing and what they need to do to improve. Foot position, reaction time, all of those can be displayed to the athlete there and then, which makes it much easier for a lot of athletes to learn.”
Leevale had been looking for a new home for some time, and two years ago the club bought the old Top Car garage on the Farranlea Road in the city. “We were looking for something in that area, because we trained in Cork IT and the Mardyke,” says Murnane, “so having a base convenient for both would be ideal. We purchased the garage in 2014, applied for planning permission, a process which took around 12 months, and we started construction in 2016, and finished last December.”
The centre has a fully equipped free weights gym, specifically designed and tailored to meet the strength and conditioning requirements of athletes, while the main hall is temperature- and climate-controlled. It’s Mondo-surfaced (a specific rubber covering) and incorporates an impressive range - sprints and hurdles straight; pole vault; high jump; long jump and throws cage.
Leevale has also invested in speed-gates; treadmills with VO2 MAX; embedded force plate for the measurement of force direction, contact time and video analysis.
“As the bar gets raised,” says Murnane, “Which is happening all the time, then the margins get tighter. Athletes begin at county level and progress to Munster and then national level, and when you do well at national level obviously you progress to international level, and at that stage the bar is set at a completely different place altogether.
“That’s where you get the returns on that technical work.” The official opening is July 15, and Leevale has invited all of their Olympians back to perform that opening ceremony. “Marcus O’Sullivan, Mark Carroll, Derval O’Rourke, Donie Walsh, Lizzie Lee, Alex Wright and Michelle Finn will all be here,” says Murnane.
“It took a bit of organising to get them all back here at the same time, and I think it may be one of the first times we’ve had them all together.”
The annual Leevale Track & Field meet begins this morning at 11am at the Cork IT track in Bishopstown.
Pictures: Larry Cummins
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