Following is a very interesting report which one of our top juvenile athletes Maeve Curley wrote before Christmas on her experience at the Five Nations Race Walking Championships in Switzerland last year.
As many will know Maeve regularly features in the medals at National level in her age group in race walking and has also made tremendous improvements in cross country running in 2008.
Maeve emigrated from the wilds of Mayo (a small place called Westport) to Ardrahan a few years ago to move closer to Connacht's preeminent juvenile athletic club in Craughwell :-). Another move loomed last year, this time a short way to Tipperary, but Maeve continues to star for Craughwell AC.
Read on in the Juvenile News section for Maeve's report.
My trip to Switzerland really started on the fifth of July in Antrim. It was the clubs All Irelands and raining heavily. I knew going into the race I had a chance of qualifying for the Five Nations Race Walking Championships in Switzerland.
However I had a torn ligament and was not in great shape for the race. My Mum did not want me to compete with an injury but I was determined. I had a good race apart from my knee bothering and the fact that if I had not been injured I could have passed the girl in front of me who has been my rival for four years now! I came third delighted as that was good enough to qualify for competing in the Land of Chocolate!
I spent the whole summer looking forward to Switzerland. Now that I think back I should have done more training for the trip than looking forward to it. I found it hard to get much training done as I was moving to a bog i.e Tipperary. I squeezed in a bit of training the week before and I must say there are some pot holes in the roads of Tipperary.
The Championships I qualified for are very historic. They kind of mark the beginning of Race Walking. It was a great privilege for athletes like us to have the chance to compete as it was the first time this was allowed. The five nations were Ireland, Britain, France, Spain and Italy.
The journey began Friday night one o'clock; we got a bus from Limerick to Dublin, Arriving half asleep to the airport at five o'clock. Our flight was two and a half hours long to Milan in Italy. Lugano where we were going was south Switzerland and Milan was the nearest airport. We then spent two hours on a bus to Lugano.
When we arrived in Lugano everyone was amazed by the beautiful scenery. It is a magical lake district surrounded by mountains. We visited quaint little chocolate shops that made our stomachs grumble. We stayed in a nice hotel but there was a festival on that weekend and there was live music at night which was a bit annoying, especially race night but we were too tired after the long journey to notice.
The food was delicious everything was fresh nothing pre-cooked or microwaved. As for the weather we were roasting under a glowing ball of fire in an endless blue sky. There was conditioning everywhere so we couldn't complain.
We met many different nationalities there, Italian, Spanish and Czech Slovakian. Ruggario and Teo were Italian and Luis Antonio, Roberto and Miguel were Spanish. Miguel was very charming and they were all brilliant world class athletes. They had great English and we learnt some Spanish too.
I was pretty happy with my race. My technique wasn't good which was a major downfall as technique is very important in Race Walking. If you are not completely focused on your technique you may be disqualified. The rules are you must have one foot on the ground at all times and your leg must be straight when it makes contact with the ground.
I did not get any warnings but my stride was too short which slowed me down. It was my second time doing five kilometres and I got a PB. The winner of my race was Emma Doherty in a time of 26.10, second an Italian girl I did not get the name of 26.28, third Emma Prendeville 27.29, fourth Fiona Dennehy 27.53 and I came fifth in 28.23. Over all I came fifth and out of the Irish competitors I came fourth!
It was a experience of a lifetime. I felt like I was at the olympics. The chance to race abroad in a beautiful country like Switzerland was as good as competing in Beijing!
Footnote by Michael:
Sorry I was so late in posting your report to the Website Maeve. I was afraid of the reaction to the 'bog' word from Diarmuid and other Tipperarish folks. But as you pointed out to me "sur don't they know its a bog anyway", so I know they'll agree with the description!