BY JJ HURLEY
THREE glorious gold medals and a superb silver at the European Masters Athletics Championships for Kinsale athlete Annette Quaid represents her iron will to overcome earlier disappointments.
Originally from Limerick, Annette turned her back on the sport following a four-year scholarship to Arkansas University, from what she described as 'burn out'.
The promising runner, who had debuted for Ireland at senior level when she was 16 years old, made her tentative return to the sport in her 30s, following a chance encounter with Leevale legend Donie Walsh.
'One day I met Donie, he said I looked like a runner and asked if I'd come training with them, so I did,' Annette remarked.
However, returning to the track and overcoming some difficult memories didn't see her make a competitive return until 2018, when success was instant, picking up a bronze medal in Madrid in the 200m at the European Masters.
The following two years brought more medals on the international front, with two silvers secured in Poland in 2019 at the World Indoor Masters and two silvers at the Outdoor European Masters in 2019 at the 400m and 800m events.
During the period, she also stamped her authority on the domestic scene. She is currently the 400m and 800m champion and leading her club Leevale to take the national league championship.
For the mum of two, who trains six days a week, it's not easy to find a balance, but Annette says, 'I am fortunate to have a supportive family and group around me, enabling me to train and work part-time.
‘Between training, travel, racing, recovery and maintenance, the costs are enormous, so I am actively seeking sponsorship at the moment, so I can focus more on my goals for the upcoming year.'
With three gold medals in the 400m, 800m and 4x200m relay, as well as a silver medal in the 1500m from the European Masters Athletics Championships in Portugal, securing a sponsor should be less of a challenge.
‘Braga was a huge step forward for me on a personal level,’ she said.
‘I have been known as the bridesmaid as I have won numerous silver medals but no gold. To win the 400m and break my national record in the same race was huge for me. The last three years have been challenging, so I wanted 2022 to be a new starting block.'
In addition to her success at the championship, she described the Irish team's victory in the 4x200m relay as the most rewarding.
'The relay gold was very special to me as well. To share it with one of my closest friends, Sinead O'Regan from Belgooly, was just magical. I'm not a sprinter by nature, and I was nervous I'd let the team down, but they believed in me, and we have a real close bond.'
Also, in the Irish line-up that came within a hair's breadth of breaking the championship record were Avril Dillon and Kathryn McDermot, as they outclassed a fancied Spanish quartet.
With the World Championships set for Finland in June, Annette will now be turning her attention to the outdoor track.