Athletics coach and administrator Ray Flynn says that it is vital for an athlete to plan properly and get the right advice.
Our Taoiseach Enda Kenny recently declared an end to the ‘silly season’ in political terms. I’m not sure if we have a silly season in athletics but, if we have, this time of year is as near as you will get to it.
Relatively speaking, it is a quiet time of year with the track and field season over now for a few weeks and a bit of a vacuum exists until we get to the cross-country season. We still have plenty of road races going on in the villages and towns of our county, but nothing on a national level.
This time of year gives our athletes a chance to take a couple of weeks off. It is also an opportune time for them to plan the year ahead, take stock of the year gone by and evaluate what has worked and not worked for them.
I have written on these pages on numerous occasions the value of proper planning particularly for young athletes. Gone are the days when an athlete can work on his or her own. A good coach is an essential part in a young athlete’s development.
Also gone are the days when any one coach is able to manage the needs of an athlete single- handedly. Particularly if an athlete is elite and has aspirations to compete at international level the coach needs to enlist the help of a good strength and conditioning expert, a good physiotherapist, nutritionist, psychologist and doctor.
It is amazing when I consider all the coaches who think that they are ‘all things’ to an athlete. The break from competition should be used by coaches as well as athletes to evaluate all aspects of the athlete’s training and preparation.
Last Friday evening I was honoured to be among the guests at a civic reception hosted by the Mayor of Sligo, Councillor David Cawley, to honour Sligo athletes Zak Irwin and Cian McBride. The reception, at which members of Sligo Borough Council, families and coaches also attended, was given in recognition of the two lads being picked to represent Ireland in a recent schools international.
The Mayor, in a wide-ranging speech, was wholesome in his praise for the achievement of the two athletes. It was indeed a great honour for Sligo athletics that the lads were accorded this reception and they really represented all the other athletes in Sligo who have achieved so much this year.
This is, of course, down to a great coaching system in our athletic clubs in Sligo. Zak and Cian are also fortunate that as well as good coaching support they have wonderful family support which is vital to young athletes of their tender years. It was also good to see Sligo Grammar school teacher Tommy Craddock present as he was a coach on the school international trip.
Finally, good luck to all who take part in the Sligo marathon and half-marathon which take place tomorrow [Saturday]. Many Sligo athletes will be using the half-marathon as a training race for the upcoming Dublin Marathon.
Both races have an Athletics Ireland permit and deserve support from athletes and the general public.