BY JOHN WALSHE
AFTER her brilliant performance at the European Cross-Country in Lisbon, West Muskerry athlete Stephanie Cotter has received the Cork City Sports Athlete of the Month award for December.
There, competing in the U23 championship, she not only won a bronze individual medal but led Ireland to silver in the team competition. This is Stephanie’s second time receiving the monthly award, having won it back in 2017 for her victories in the school’s championships.
It has been a massive climb up the ladder in such a short time, as she explained: ‘Yes, I suppose that’s crazy. Two years ago when I stood here I couldn’t imagine having two European medals but I guess one of those medals I wouldn’t have only for the other two girls, Eilish and Roisin (Flanagan), who are not here today but I want to give them huge credit as well.’
All three attend Adams State University in Colorado where they are coached by Damon Martin. Just a week earlier, Cotter had won the NCAA D11 Cross-Country title in Sacramento with Adams State winning the team award. In Lisbon, Stephanie finished third behind Anna Emilie Moller of Denmark and Dutch runner Jasmijn Lau with Eilish finishing ninth and Roisin 17th, giving Ireland the second team behind The Netherlands.
Of the race itself, Stephanie said the course was much tougher than it looked.
‘It was a very hilly course; it looked a bit deceptive on the television. We got out really hard, but thankfully we are used to that in the States so we were able to maintain that pace. We all felt the pinch on the third lap, I tried to go with Moller but she put in a huge surge,’ she explained.
‘I knew Jasmin, the girl from The Netherlands, was coming up behind me and we went back and fourth multiple times on the last lap. She is very strong and the hills suited her and she was able to propel herself forward, but thankfully I managed to hold on for third.
‘It was a huge relief when I crossed the line, I figured we might finish in the top four of five teams but when we were getting our photos taken we all looked up on the board and saw that Ireland were second. That moment is actually captured on one of the Sportsfile pictures, which is just crazy.’
Also receiving an award at the function in the River Lee Hotel was Bandon athlete Phil Healy. She received it for the month of July but was unable to attend at the time. It was for her performance at the national championships in Santry that month where, on her comeback from injury, she won the 200m in a swift time of 23.33. It was accepted on her behalf by long-serving Bandon AC officer Billy Good.