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Phil Healy, Athlete

Wednesday, 18th July, 2018 5:11pm

Name and position:  Phil Healy, Athlete

Age: 23

Lives: Waterford/Ballineen, West Cork

Family: One sister Joan, 25, and two Brothers Diarmuid, 20, and Pádraig, 16

Pets: A Bichon Frise at home, Freddie

Favourite thing about Cork: The atmosphere and vibe around the city and county. Spots to see, things to do, variety of cafes, shopping.

Least favourite thing about Cork: Having to train on my own for four years when based in UCC, without my coach Shane McCormack.

One thing you’d change about Cork: Stop Patrick’s Street from becoming a pedestrianised zone and bring Penny’s to Mahon point.

When you were small, what did you want to be as a grown-up?

Like every young child it constantly varied, from popstar to being famous, a teacher, a hairdresser, and a nurse.

Tell us about your career progression to your role today:

Growing up I was never the quickest kid. I was involved in a number of sports all the way up until 16 or 17 years old – soccer, camogie, football and athletics. I focused fully on athletics in fifth year of school. Up until then I would always miss out on qualifying for All-Irelands.

In fifth year I won the All-Irelands, got to All-Ireland Schools and on the Irish Celtic games international team. In sixth year I won the All-Ireland Schools and came fourth at the European Junior championships in 100m.

At the end of 2013 I changed coach to Shane McCormack, and things really progressed from there. I qualified for the European Senior Championships that summer – finishing 25th overall – and won the All-Ireland Senior Championships. I broke the U23 national 60m record and the Irish 4x100m national record.

In the years that followed I was a European U23 semi-finalist, a member of the Irish relay teams at the World Championships and the European Championships. I set a new 4 x 200m national record, was Indoor 400m national champion and also Outdoor 200m champion.

This year I moved to Waterford after four years in UCC. I am now a Masters student in Waterford IT, around Shane my coach and a great squad of training partners. I was Indoor 400m champion and European athlete of the month in January. I placed 12th at the World Indoors over 400m and second in the World Indoor tour in Karlsruhe, Germany. I also set a national 100m record. I qualified for European Championships in 100, 200, 400, 4 x 100 and 4 x 400. I achieved new 200 and 400m personal bests and am looking forward to the next few weeks of competitions before the European Championships in Berlin on the 7 August.

What is the most enjoyable aspect of what you do?

Getting to travel to so many places, competing at a top level, working with new people, being disciplined, improving in different aspects, and making new friends from across the world at different competitions.

What motivates you?

Definitely Shane, my coach. He is the biggest factor. Yes you see different athletes that you look up to and want to be as good as, or being inspired by different performances. Shane and I set out the main goals/targets at the beginning of each year, but most importantly we have goals we want to achieve each day in every session/recovery day. It’s all about achieving those to reach the overall main goal, constantly working on all areas and making evident progress.

What advice would you give your 15 year old self?

Just to enjoy it. Use sport as an outlet, an opportunity to grow and develop, make new friends and find new interests. No matter what the sport, give it a try and don’t feel like you are being judged by your friends for picking that activity/sport. If it makes you happy, don’t let anyone stop you. You have plenty of time to focus on just one sport when older, so if possible keep up as many as you can when fun. Just enjoy and use it as a source of exercise and feeling good. It’s not all about winning or competition.

If you weren’t in the job you have, what would you be doing?

I’d probably still be in nursing and working full time now.

What is your greatest life or career achievement to-date?

Breaking the national 100M record in 11.28 seconds.

Who has had the biggest influence on you in your life?

Again, my coach Shane. Working so closely, he always believed in me and made me realise my potential. He has brought the best out of me and enabled me to compete against the world’s best on the international stage.

What is the life dream now?

Sporting wise, the Olympics in 2020 and 2024. Win a major medal, either indoors or outdoors. I would also like to break the 200 national record. Besides that, just stay injury free.

Life post athletics, I’d like to look back with no regrets, being happy, working and enjoying it.

How do you switch off?

Spending time with friends, just having fun doing different things. Or going to the beach – definitely a happy place just to chill.

What is your favourite Cork memory?

Just trips to the city when younger - more of a novelty than when I subsequently lived in the city for four years. Trips to Fota, shopping, or going to the Opera House to see a pantomime.

What is your favourite place in Cork?

Anywhere in West Cork.

Do you have a favourite quote or motto?

‘Everything happens for a reason’ - I’m a firm believer.

When are you at your happiest?

Definitely when on the track/gym – it’s what I love doing, always wanting to get better.

Any regrets?

No I don’t think so. That’s one thing Shane always tells me – never look back with regrets. I have one shot in this sport, so I try to do everything to give myself the best chance and opportunities no matter what.

What is your hidden talent?

Ha I don’t think I have any. I do enjoy cooking and baking, so maybe that.

What might we be surprised to know about you?

I was a nurse for four years before switching into the IT department.

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