Long jump ace captures gold

Shane is still coming to terms with his first ever triumph at the prestigious national senior championships which are held on an annual basis. The modest star was delighted with his gold medal. “I was absolutely delighted. It was my first time winning a national senior title. I have won at juvenile, junior and U23 level, but I was always seeking that senior title. It is nice to finally have won a gold medal at senior level. I was very happy with my performance. I think it showed that there is definitely more in the tank for me going forward. I was inconsistent with the board, but the jumps and distance are there.”

The modest Bandon AC club man had prepared well ahead of this year’s national indoor championships. He had trained very hard and approached the championships in confident fashion. “I had trained very well. It was probably the first season in a very long time that I came into a competition injury free. I struggled big time with a recurring injury and had to completely rethink my training and running technique with my coach Liz Coomey and physio Alan Keane. I definitely wouldn’t be back to where I am now without their help. I was confident going into the start of the indoor season, just knowing that I was in a better place from an injury perspective which was enough to give me that edge. Technically I was running better than before and my all around fitness, speed and strength was improving as well also.”

Shane’s winning jump of 7.44 represented a great showing once again for the Cork athlete, but was still some bit off his own personal best, which reinforces his belief that he won without hitting his best form. “I’m definitely short of that at the moment. My personal best is 7.53m and the indoor national record is 8m, but it’s definitely something that I will strive to beat in the future.  I jumped 7.44m to win the gold medal, but I know if I nailed the board on some of the jumps, I would have blown that PB out of the water. I just need a few more competitions to nail it.”

His family were understandably thrilled and proud with his latest sporting achievements. Shane is indebted to his family for their great help and support throughout his athletic career. “My family have always been behind my athletics career. I’m been doing it from such a young age. Every weekend as a kid, I was being dropped to competition or training. It’s always great to have their backing and support at every step of my journey, as the sport can be very demanding and they are very understand of that.”

The 24-year-old sports star is currently balancing a full-time job with his intensive athletic schedule. Shane who works as a engineer admits he finds it hard to find a balance between his work-life and sporting dreams. He has to keep working however to fund his long jump requirements. “I graduated from the University of Limerick in Mechanical Engineering. I am currently working full time as an engineer but I’m finding it hard to balance working full-time and trying to train like a full-time athlete. I’m funding myself through my job as an engineer, as I don’t have sponsors at present. If I was relying on the money I make from a few competitions that pay out prize money during the year, it would be very difficult to support myself.”

Shane who originally hails from Rathcormac joined Bandon AC following in the footsteps of his sister who made a similar move from Grange Fermoy to the much vaunted set up at Bandon AC. Shane is delighted they made the move. “I ran for Grange Fermoy as a kid. It was the closest club from where I lived. It was very much a juvenile club. My father used to train my sister and I. He came from a GAA background and did a good job at it, as I used to win most competitions as a youngster. My older sister was asked to guest for Bandon in the National League and I guess that’s how we became affiliated with the club. A few people my own age were in the club as well and that pulled me into their training sessions, which I needed at the time, as everyone my own age was gone from my local club. I was probably around 14 when I joined. Everyone was extremely welcoming and friendly in the club, especially Catherine Duggan. I don’t think there was ever a day that I didn’t get a phone call or text from Catherine after a competition to congratulate me or lift me up if I didn’t compete as well as I wanted too. I subsequently met my current coach Liz Coomey, as she always trained the more senior athletes in the club and it just went from there. I have never looked back.”

He is always proud to represent Bandon AC in domestic athletic events. “It is a great club to be involved in. It is very friendly and family orientated. A great example of this is the summer camp for kids where everyone in the club is involved and it is very much a community event. It is always great to represent the club at a national championships, especially since we have good senior athletes in our club that are competitive at national championship events.”

Shane is indebted to his coach Liz Coomey for the role she has played in his development into a national senior champion. “She has played a huge role in my progress. I think it is because we have a great understanding of each other and both see the end goal at the end of the day. I don’t think I could ask for a better coach. I sometimes think that Liz is more committed than I am, which probably shouldn’t be the case. Liz has an incredible understanding of the sport down to the smallest of details and can spot a mistake a mile away. It is exactly what I need if I want to progress to international level in the sport. I think her biggest attribute is her strive for perfection. She is also constantly upskilling her knowledge in the sport.”

The ace athlete was always a sports enthusiast growing up. He participated in a variety of sports as youngster, but long jump was always his preferred sporting discipline. He has had to overcome some difficult moments in his quest for stardom. “I was always sporty. I did everything as a kid, but athletics always stood out for me. I was always the fastest in my class and ever since I won my first national title in the sprint and long jump it has always stuck with me. I was always a jumper from a young age. I was just naturally good at it. I didn’t grow until I was 17 and I was very small trying to compete against fully grown men. It turned me off the sport for a while, as I went from winning all around me to winning nothing. I kept long jumping, as it was what I was best at. I was just about scraping qualification to Munster and All-Ireland events. I remember I was even dropped off the Munster Performance Squad, which really pushed me on to get back to winning ways. When I eventually grew, I was about 17 and literally grew a foot. I’m now 6’4”. That year was a good year, as I smashed all my personal bests and started to get back on the podium. As a sport you are quickly remembered and forgotten.”

Long jumping is a tough sport to participate in revealed the dedicate athletic who endures a very intense training regime in his bid for more honours. “Long jump is a lot tougher than people think. I think that there is this whole stigma around athletics that it’s just running and anybody could do it. If it were that easy, I think we’d have a lot more Olympians. It is an international sport and you are not just competing against people on a national basis, you are up against the world really. It is one of the main Olympic sports and extremely competitive. You have to have a determined mindset and know that there will be way more downs that ups. Training weeks vary depending on the time of year. Competition season, less is always more, but winter training is very different. Typical winter week of training is pretty much every day. Core, general strength and rehab exercise on a daily basis without fail. Typically I get in my speed session, speed endurance, hit two gym sessions a week, a technical session that usually jumping, plyometric which is probably my favourite and a curve ball session.Typically you’re looking at six to ten sessions a week.”

Bandon AC have a strong reputation for producing a plethora of great athletes down through the years. Current stars also include the Healy sisters Phil and Joan. Shane is proud of their progress. “It is great to see, especially so locally. They are great athletes. I think it gives you the ambition to follow suit and know that it is possible. It definitely promotes the sport in Cork and gives it the recognition it deserves.”

The ambitious long jump champion has specific shortterm goals he hopes to achieve in the forseeable future. “The European Team championships are on at the end of the summer and I am hoping to be selected to compete in this competition. I just need to keep the solid progress going. It would be a great honour to represent Ireland in competitive action. It is always my biggest ambition. It keeps me determined to succeed to get that green vest. The World Championships are due to be held in Doha in October, so the season will be a very long one. I will have to sit down with my coach and physio and plan out what competitions we want to hit.”

Looking further to the future, Shane is hoping to compete in the Olympic Games. “I’ve two main goals. My first goal is to achieve a PB of 7.80m and represent Ireland in the European Team Championships.I definitely feel that these are possible goals to achieve. Looking to the long-term, I think the Olympic dream is always in every athletes’ head. It is the be all and end all of athletics.”

WCP Staff

WCP Staff Writer

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