Track & Field

Gillick goes back to his roots to find New Breed

The next generation

Former Irish athletics star David Gillick will return to his alma mater, St. Benildus College, on September 23rd to find the next generation of talent.

The double European Indoor champion and Olympian will be back in the school where his athletics journey began as part of the exciting Irish Schools Athletics initiative entitled the New Breed campaign, which is supported by Athletics Ireland apparel sponsor New Balance.

The long term objective of the New Breed programme is to discover the future stars of the sport in secondary schools, and link them up with their local clubs, in order to nurture and develop their athletic talent. Gillick believes that if it wasn’t for schools athletics he would have quit the sport and not gone on to achieve his dreams.

“If it wasn’t for schools athletics I would have quit the sport,” explained Gillick. “St Benildus had a proud tradition of running and it helped improve my capabilities and give me the confidence that one day I would represent Ireland at the Olympic Games.

“It’s extremely important we give all kids the chance to try all sports and in doing so create the link with the local clubs. It is competitive at grassroots level these days, the popular main stream sports such as soccer, rugby and GAA have a big pull on numbers leaving the minority sports struggling.

Country full of talent

“I believe we have exceptional athletic talent in this country, we simply need to find it, nurture it and allow it to flourish. Athletics is paramount in all sports including field base activities: teaching kids to be more athletic and agile resulting in improved sporting abilities but also building confidence and self-esteem.

“I’m passionate about athletics and I’m delighted with the support from Athletics Ireland and New Balance for backing my initiative to give something back to the next generation.”

The first wave of the campaign began on the 14th of April in Mount Sackville in Dublin before moving on to Carrigaline Community School in Cork and concluded in Sligo Grammar School.

Gillick will kick-start the second wave of the campaign alongside the Athletics Ireland Regional Development team in St Benildus focusing on first and second year students. The students will do three main tests in a fun environment: 30m sprint using state of the art speed gate equipment; standing long jump; standing high jump.

Irish Schools director Anthony White said: “Increasing participation in sport is a key driver behind the New Breed initiative. We have focused on first years as it is a major transition in their lives and we are trying to make it easier for them to continue to be active. It is a great way to introduce them to the joy of athletics and hopefully unearth the next Irish star.”

Leading the way: Lauren Fleshman is a two-time US champion and five-time NCAA champion. Image: Oiselle
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Gerard O'Donnell

Gerard O'Donnell

Gerard O'Donnell is an athlete, physical therapist, and MSc student. He is current national 110m hurdles champion and ranks 3rd & 5th on the Irish all-time list for the sprint hurdles events. He is occasionally referred to as GOD, not due to his initials, but because of his heavenly beard, which he has sported since the age of 5.

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