CORK athlete Phil Healy once again enjoyed a memorable 2020 season as she continues to achieve personal milestones.
The sprint sensation enjoyed great success again, capturing gold in both the 100m and 200m finals at the national championships over consecutive weekends.
The Bandon AC member has now won 12 senior national titles medals which represents a unique tally.
“I am thrilled to hold 12 national senior titles. I will always treasure them because of the work, sacrifice and dedication that goes into achieving your goals.
"It was great that they were held at all this year. They were a real target for me, once it was finalised in the calendar. I love competing. I was lucky enough that the 100m and 200m races were held on two separate weekends. This allowed me to double up in both events.”
The Ballineen native entered the national championships as clear favourite due to her holding personal bests in both sprint distances. The favourite tag didn’t bother Healy as she produced two outstanding performances despite less than ideal preparation coming into the event.
“There will always be people who will automatically think you're going to win, just because you’re the national record holder. You have to ignore that. My lead up was far from ideal, as I dislocated my shoulder which effected things a lot more than expected.
"We also had to adapt to different training locations because so few tracks were open. I just focus on my race and forget what everyone else thinks.
"At the end of the day, I’m there to be beaten just as much as everyone else is. Records are also there to be broken and it’s just a new target for everyone else to step up to.
"The win is all that I wanted. My aim was to go out and produce a performance. I just had to focus on executing my race and what I had practiced in training.”
Performing at the national championships in front of no supporters was also a novel experience. She paid no heed of the lack of atmosphere and was just thrilled to be back competing following a very stop-start athletics season.
“It was a bonus that we had any competition and to have it split over two weekends was even better. It felt like two different championships.
"We would have loved to have performed in front of a crowd or even had our coaches present in the stadium, but we were just happy to be given the chance to perform. We train to race, so we will take any opportunity that works out.
"It was the safest decision for everyone. The people involved in organising and officiating deserve great credit for making it happen.”
The Ballineen Bullet overcame a lot of obstacles during lockdown, with the shoulder injury she sustained hindering her from physical training for a short period. Her coach also had to come to her aid in unorthodox fashion as she couldn’t travel to meet up with her physio.
“I had problems with my shoulder and I couldn’t see my physios as we couldn’t travel outside a certain radius. My coach had to pop it back in over FaceTime to of my physios.
"I had to adjust my training as I wasn’t able to run for nearly two weeks. The biggest impact was felt in the gym as I couldn’t lift heavy. That would be a big component of my training.”
Healy is always proud to represent her beloved Bandon AC on the national and international stage. She is very grateful to all involved within the club for the role they played in her development.
“Bandon are a great support. It is always great to represent the club at both the national and international level. I have very fond memories training with the club when I was younger, especially with the late Catherine Duggan.
"She was the backbone of the club. It is my privilege to continue representing the club at such a high level.”
Athletics evidently runs in the Healy family, older sister Joan is also a distinguished athlete.
“It’s great to see her competing at the top level. It takes a lot to get to the top level. She has been through a lot with injuries. To have her back competing with such distinction is great.”
The Cork athlete is currently training hard in preparation for next year. She is hopeful the Olympics will be held next summer and is determined to be ready for what could potentially be a huge season.
“I took a three-week break after the nationals. I am back into full winter training. It’s time to build the base again ahead of what will the biggest year of my career.
"It is all about getting the consistency back and improving all the time. I am already in the qualifying position and the qualification process was frozen until December 2020.
"The top-ranked 56 in the world are selected. I’m currently ranked 29th which is good enough for qualification.
"It’s an average of your five best times. Different races give an extra weighting towards your ranking. Everything is geared towards the Olympics in 2021.
"The Olympics are the main goal. Everything is centred around that.”