Indoor Track & FieldTrack & Field

Junior Interview: Healy jumps and hurdles into the record books

By Jack Corbett

For the fourth instalment in our junior interview series we caught up with promising Leevale athlete Sam Healy. The Cork junior is building towards the European Junior Championships in July off the back of an outstanding indoor campaign which saw him eclipse world finalist and Irish senior record holder Ciaran McDonagh as junior long jump record holder with a classy 7.53m leap in Athlone in February.

Healy also excels over the sprint hurdles, an event which he also stamped his mark on throughout this indoor campaign, first in equalling Trevor McGlynn’s long-standing junior 60mH record of 8.00 seconds in his season opener in January and then by re-writing this mark with a 7.89 clocking in Athlone last month. He was spurred on no doubt by the success on the world stage of hurdlers such as Thomas Barr and, of course, Derval O’Rourke who competed with such class and distinction on the global circuit for a number of years. It is now evident that Irish hurdling at the junior level is in a healthy position at present with a slew of talented athletes re-writing the record books in recent times.

Healy's rival Matthew Behan. Picture via Liam Behan

Healy’s rival Matthew Behan. Picture via Liam Behan

On the men’s side in particular an enthralling rivalry has developed between Healy and Crusaders standout Matthew Behan who have had many great battles over the past couple of seasons in particular, including a captivating duel at C.I.T. last July where both athletes dipped under the World Junior B standard, Healy just shading it in a cool 14.21 clocking for the high hurdles. With rising stars such as Molly Scott and our recent feature athlete Ciara Neville duking it out on the female side, it’s clear that Irish hurdling is on the rise.

For now we catch up with Sam as he focuses his efforts over the coming months on cementing his place on the Euro Junior team as the not so tantalising prospect of the Leaving Cert looms large on the horizon.

How did you get into athletics?

I started athletics when I was 10. My mom was an athlete herself when she was younger and she asked me if I wanted to start. I was a multi-eventer up until two years ago and then I narrowed it down to long jump and hurdles because they were my two favourite events.

What were your highlights of 2014?

My highlight of last year would have to be winning the national senior outdoor championships in the long jump. It was my first national senior medal.

What are your goals this outdoor season?

My main goals for this year are to qualify for the European junior championships in Sweden in the hurdles and the long jump. I have the standard in the long jump and id like too get the standard in the hurdles early in the outdoor season so there is no pressure on me to get it coming up to the leaving cert.

Image by Sportsfile courtesy of Athletics Ireland

Image by Sportsfile courtesy of Athletics Ireland

Can you give us a typical training week?

Monday: Gym
Tuesday: Normally speed work
Wednesday: Hurdles
Thursday: Long jump
Friday: Gym
Saturday: Speed work
Sunday: Rest day

Hurdles coach: Seamus Power
Long jump coach: Steve Fleming

What role does the gym play in your training programme?

Im in the gym twice a week, strength work plays a pretty big role in my events and the weight training I do gives me the power I need for them.

What’s your long-term goals?

At the moment I’m just focused on the European juniors and haven’t really thought past that yet.

Did you have a particular athletics idol growing up?

Growing up the only time I watched athletics was when Usain Bolt was running. I was more into soccer back then.

What are your three favourite things about being an athlete?

My three favourite things about being an athlete are going abroad for a competition, it’s always a fun experience; Getting personal bests, it’s always a good day when it happens; Lastly training with my friends almost everyday, it’s always fun.

When not competing yourself, do you enjoy watching athletics? If so, what current athlete national or international catches your eye the most?

I love watching Pascal Martinot-Lagarde the hurdler, he’s a beast!! It was great to see him win the European indoors this year.

Image courtesy of PhotoRun
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Feidhlim Kelly

Feidhlim Kelly

Con Houlihan once told me that tomorrow is now. In taking on this venture I’ve started to try and put his words into action.

I worked for Con from 2007 till his passing in 2012 taking down his copy and a whole lot more. I have a Con Houlihan section which will go in to more depth on that.

I’m a long-time contributor to the Irish Runner magazine and am also working for the Irish Examiner.

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