Track & Field

AMERICAN SCHOLARSHIP SERIES:MAIREAD MURPHY: PART TWO

Mairead Murphy attended University College Dublin for four years studying for a degree in Physiotherapy. She then left U.C.D to transfer to Kansas State at the end of her degree. Whilst there she broke the Irish Heptathlon record at the Big 12 Championships, posting 5399 points.

She is currently fourth on the all-time list over 100mh where she has recorded a time of 13.74. She is the current Irish Senior indoor Penthalon Record Holder with 3934 points. She represented Ireland at the European Youth Olympics, European Junior championships, World Junior Championships and European Under 23 Championships.

She now lives in New Zealand with her boyfriend Jamie Davis, current National Senior 100m Champion and all-round good guy.

Part One can be found here

What would you consider the down sides of the American system?

Mairead Murphy Kansas State Mugshot

Mairead Murphy Kansas State Mugshot

Education has always been for me of equal importance as my athletics career. To have gone to america when I was 18 would not have provided the same educational opportunities as UCD would have. I have always wanted to be a physiotherapist. In order to become one in the america I would of had to do a very broad undergrad and then enter grad school to in order to become a physical therapist. After all this I still would not be able to work as a physiotherapist in Ireland. American scholarships will only support you for 4 maybe 5 years. You would have to support yourself over the final few years. I understand that this may only be the case for people who have specific career paths in mind but it was definitely a draw back for me.

The american system itself from my experience had very few flaws. However over there you are in a huge bubble of sorts. You are so supported in terms of coaching, medical team, competition schedule, provision of gear, facilities etc. It is a huge shock to the system when your finished with your eligibility irrespective or whether your choose to stay in america or return home. I definitly stuggled to find my feet when I got back and I was only there for a year. I can only imagine what it would be like after 4.

 Is there a big difference in the approach to sprints/ technical events in the states?

I think one of the major differences is the load and intensity at which the young american sprinters/jumpers train at. This is maybe where young Irish sprinters struggle with when the head to America at a young age. I was older and had more years of higher volume training under my belt by the time I went. As a member of Ferrybank A.C we had always trained at a high intensity. This was built on when during my time is UCD.

I think junior Irish sprinters are training at a major higher level throughout the country and the standard of coaching has improved massively. This is evident in the fact the the junior and u23 relay records have recently been broken. They might not find the transition so challenging. I was extremely lucky as there was always a huge emphasis on injury prevention in Kansas State. Our coach would always be sensitive to any injuries and ensure we had sufficient recovery. I suppose one of the benefits of being in a smaller college.

Mairead Murphy competing for Ferrybank as a Junior

Mairead Murphy competing for Ferrybank as a Junior

 From a sprinters and a technical perspective, we aren’t renowned for our technical coaches or sprint success( with a few notable exceptions). Is there a big difference in the approach to sprints/ technical events in the states?

Ireland has good sprint enough coaches, definitely. I’ve been lucky enough to work with some. But at the end of the day, for the majority, all the work they do is voluntary. They all have full time jobs, for the most part they aren’t available at 7am for a gym session and again at 3 for a track session.

Not many sprinters have tried the American Route, why do you think that is?

America is unknown to the Irish sprinting population. Distances runners have previous success stories on which to help make their decisions.

Would you recommend Kansas State to a prospective student-athlete?

Without a doubt, if a young sprinter or heptathlete  is thinking of America then K-State is a great option. It was small and personal but was overflowing with talent and support

Image: PhotoRun
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Ronan Duggan

Ronan Duggan

Ronan Duggan is an athlete, coach, athletics fan and, most importantly, was once named Bandon AFC's under-12 Player of the Year. He was once a promising athlete but is now a promising coach, teacher and part-time athletics writer/broadcaster. While an 800m runner himself, Ronan has coached everything from pole vault to 10km with varying levels of bluffing. He has regularly been threatening to do something for years but is yet to deliver. He is regarded as our expert on the American running scene, though has yet, to prove his knowledge in this realm.

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