‘I have pushed myself beyond belief so hopefully I can reap the rewards'

January 28th, 2019 5:00 PM

By Kieran McCarthy

2018 West Cork Sports Star of the Year Phil Healy pictured with her parents, Jerry and Phil, and friends and family at the gala awards in the Celtic Ross Hotel.

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No rest for Phil Healy who was back training on the track on Sunday morning

No rest for Phil Healy who was back training on the track on Sunday morning


THE morning after the night before, Phil Healy was back on the track.

There’s no rest for Ireland’s fastest-ever woman, not even the day after she was crowned the 2018 West Cork Sports Star of the Year.

Her coach Shane McCormack, fresh from his first weekend holidaying in West Cork, is keen to make sure the Ballineen bullet is in her best shape ahead of the Austrian Indoor Championships in Vienna.

So, even though Phil was named West Cork’s top sports star for 2018, she trained as normal the following day.

‘There is no taking it easy!’ she laughs.

‘This was the final prep for Vienna this weekend so it was on the track in the Mardyke and in the gym too, two sessions.’

The late night on Saturday at the awards didn’t knock Phil off track. The designated driver for her celebrating crew of family and friends was the centre of attention after she scooped the top award.

It means an awful lot to the Bandon AC speedster. 

‘This is an absolute honour,’ she says.

‘We go to awards around the country and we always say the West Cork one is the hardest to win because the depth of talent here across all sports is phenomenal, so it’s an absolute honour to be recognised as the overall winner. It caps off a brilliant season for me.

‘You can be recognised across the country but it definitely means more to be recognised here at home and by the people that know you and that have been with you from the very start.

‘This means a lot.’

It was her exploits in Austria last January that led to Phil being awarded the West Cork Sports Star of the Month January award after she ran a 400m indoor PB of 52.08 in Vienna. That kickstarted the best year of her life as she went on to set Irish 100m and 200m records to race into the history books as the fastest Irish woman ever.

Phil is back in Vienna this Saturday for her first race of the season, again in the 400m as she looks to secure the qualifying time for the upcoming European Indoor Championships in Glasgow.

‘This weekend I fly to Vienna on Friday and race on Saturday. This is where I ran the 52.08 last year that earned me the European Athletics Female Athlete of the Month so no pressure there!’ she says.

‘This is the start of the season for me and I am looking forward to going out there. The main aim is to get the European indoor qualification standard for the 400, which is 53.75. If I run just under it, that’s all I want. I want to tick that box. That will secure my qualification and that will take all the pressure away.

‘I have varsities two weeks later where I’ll represent my college (Waterford IT), there is another meet in Athlone where I’ll run the 400, then I’ll have a bit of fun at the nationals, where it will either be the 60, 200 or 400, and I’ll take it onto the European indoors then.’

These days, Phil is like a coiled spring waiting to explode. She wants to run. She wants to race. It’s been a long and hard winter’s training, physically and mentally challenging, but all the signs are encouraging.

‘My training squad have been racing since December 12th and I have yet to race,’ Phil says.

‘I just want to run now. I know I’m in good shape. I’m excited about getting back out there because I know I’ve worked hard enough through the winter.

‘I have pushed myself beyond belief so hopefully I can reap the rewards when I step on the track.’

Improving means running faster. If she does that, the records will fall again. When she runs PBs now, they’re usually national records.  

‘We definitely progressed things a lot since last season,’ she says.

‘I have a training diary with all my times from different sessions, a lot of them we repeat in similar weeks so there is a comparison. There is a big difference in some of them so that shows the gains that are being made, on track, in the gym.

‘We do a lot of physiological testing as well with lactate testing and there are great signs there. It’s about putting all that work together and showing it on the track.

‘We’re always looking at improving too. We’ll look back and say that this was the best winter but next winter we’ll push it on more again. 

‘This was the first proper 400-metre winter I put in. There were a lot of 500m, 600m reps. You’re so tired from the previous session and there are times when I turn to Shane and say “why do I feel so crap in sessions?’. He just tells me that it will all come together, that you just have to go through this, put the weeks back to back.

‘Everyone is out there training hard so I have to do it as well.’

Phil’s putting in the hard yards in her quest to run faster than ever before. Her commitment is incredible. So the morning after one of the greatest nights of her life, when her own people at home recognised her as the best sportsperson in West Cork, and her parents Jerry and Phil and family and friends were there to share this special moment, she was back on the track, working towards the future.

There’s more to come here. Phil’s just getting started.


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