I was born and raised in Ballinteer, on Dublin’s Southside. I am the youngest of four children (Tony, John and Eileen). My parents, Jim and Sheila were always big into sport, and they gave myself and my siblings every opportunity to partake in sport, giving lift and pick us up from various places, though I have to say they were always late, sorry!! And there was also that time I was supposed to wash the football teams kit, but Dad left it in the boot of his car all week, and we all had to wear dirty kit the following weekend!
All in all they were great and I wouldn’t be where I am with out them.
As you can gather I’m big into sport and as a young lad played both soccer and Gaelic football as well as athletics. It turned out I was better at the latter than soccer so gave that up at the age of 16 and just focused on the other too. I loved playing Gaelic, it’s a rough physical game, and I often lost my temper! The only time I was ever ground was when I got sent off in a match, Dad wasn’t a bit impressed. I suppose I was passionate, but the ref was wrong, needed thicker glasses if you ask me!!
It came to a point when I had to make a decision about what sport I wanted to focus on, and I went the athletics route. I just felt I was making better inroads into athletics and I could go further. It was tough because I loved Gaelic and the playing for Ballinteer St. Johns, but it had to done. I have always said I will go back after my athletics and play for Ballinteer. In Ireland you never forget your colours and where you come from.
I studied at Dublin Institute of Technology before moving to Loughborough to train as a full time athlete with coach Nick Dakin in October 2006. I specialize in the 400 metres and won the European Indoor Championship in 2005 and 2007. I set the Irish Indoor record of 45.52 seconds in the 2007 final. The time also beat the Irish outdoor record of 45.58 and was within the Olympic 'A' qualifying standard for the 2008 Games.
I continued my good form into the summer, and had a great World Championships, finishing 6th in my semi-final, and 16th overall. I performed well when it mattered, running both my 2nd and 3rd fastest times ever.
In 2008 I realized a life long dream. I became an Olympian. Unfortunately I was struck down with a virus prior to the games and didn’t perform to my potential. I was gutted and it took me a while to get over it. But I realized a dream and that can never be taken away from me.
I learnt a lot of lessons in 2008 and when I started back into training I made a decision to start enjoying my sport. My new attitude was successful. I was training better than ever and as a result I ran very well in 2009 summer. I set a new personal best and Irish record in July with a time of 44.77 and back this up with a 6th place finish at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin. To be up there with the best 400m athletes in world consistently throughout the season was where I always wanted to be. 2009 gave me great confidence and belief, and to finally get under 45 seconds was a real step forward.
2010 was a disappointing year, my times were good, again running 44 seconds regularly but finishing 5th in the European Champs in Barcelona and also getting DQ’d in the final of the world indoors champs made it a frustrating year.
Post season I decided to move to Florida to train with some of the fastest athletes in the world. It was 2 years out from the London Olympics and the time was right to make a move. Unfortunately it didn’t workout, resulting in missing the 2011 season through injury.
I relocated to Loughborough under Nick Dakin ahead of the 2012 season, but I had a reoccurrence of the injury that ruined my season and my Olympic ambitions. It was a very tough and frustrating period.
I thought about retiring from the sport but in the end said I would give it another year. I spent time in Australia training at the Australian Institute of Sport, which was an amazing experience, but injury striked again and it not only effected my body but also my love for the sport.
I came home from Australia and was asked to take part in Celebraty Masterchef Ireland. It was a crazy few weeks, I managed to stay in the competition all the way to final, and at this point my competitive streak came to the fore and I took away the trophy.
The masterchef experience was amazing, and real gave me a lift when I needed it. A few doors have opened since and as I take a step back from athletics I intend to pursue these opportunities and see where they go.
I do miss athletics and the buzz of competing but I’m looking to the future with excitement as to where the path will lead me.