West Cork speedster Phil Healy on track despite Olympic uncertainty

Sprinter is training flat out preparing for the games in Toyko
West Cork speedster Phil Healy on track despite Olympic uncertainty

Phil Healy who was announced as one of the recipients of the FBD Make A Difference programme, in conjunction the Olympic Federation of Ireland. This fund will assist Olympic hopefuls. Picture: INPHO/Tommy Dickson

UNTIL she is told otherwise, Phil Healy is preparing as normal in the belief that the Olympics will go ahead as planned in Toyko this summer.

The International Olympic Committee recently had to release a statement to dismiss renewed speculation that the delayed 2020 Games in the Japanese capital are set to be cancelled due to rising coronavirus rates.

“I don’t have the answer and nobody else has the answer. To me, they will be going ahead, until they’re cancelled. But it’s out of our control,” admitted the Cork native.

“It’s six months down the line, if we rewind six months Ireland was in a super position so let’s hope with vaccine rollout, with different testing that this does change.

“If the Olympics does go-ahead from what we’ve heard it’s going to be a different Olympics but as athletes, we will take any opportunity to have them go ahead.

“I want it to go ahead and until it’s cancelled it’s going ahead for me.” Healy is Ireland’s top sprinter in the 100m and 200m events and she currently sits inside Olympic ranking as lying 32nd, with the top 56 qualifying for Tokyo.

The 26-year-old was speaking at the announcement that she, along with fellow Corkonians Meg Ryan, Aoife Casey, Margaret Cremen and Lydia Heaphy, will be the recipients of the FBD Insurance ‘Make A Difference’ programme which is a €50,000 fund that will assist Ireland’s Olympic hopefuls in their preparation for the Games.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to be selected as one of the beneficiaries of the FBD Make A Difference programme,” said Healy.

“This support as part of the FBD ‘Make a Difference’ programme will help to further assist my preparations.” 

RECORD BREAKER

Healy holds the 100m & 200m Irish Record and 200m Indoor Irish Record and this funding will allow her to compete and train abroad more in the coming months and lead up to what will hopefully be her first Olympic Games.

But the Ballineen and Enniskean runner has opted not to accept an invitation to compete in a high-profile indoor meeting in the Czech Republic although she plans to compete in the European indoor championships in Poland in March.

“I did get offers to a meet in Ostrava, it was one step down from the World Indoor Tour because there’s no 400 on the World Indoor Tour,” she admitted. “That was another option that I do every year, but I just decided not to take the risk and not to travel.

“I’m in the lucky position where I do have the (European Indoor) standard from last year, I ran the standard twice in the two 400s I ran, so I’ll sit on it for now.

“But I’m holding out hope for nationals going ahead, racing that and then going to Europeans.

“As an athlete that is frustrating because yes, you can go abroad, you can get your standard, but you can also pick it (Covid) up at the airport, in the plane.

“And you could mess up your next few weeks and months afterwards because you hear the horror stories and just because you’re fit and healthy doesn’t mean you’re not going to have the effects of it.

“It’s hard, it’s frustrating, and it’s very frustrating for coaches as well because there is nothing definite.” 

Bandon’s Phil Healy wins the Women’s 200m national final in Santry last summer.
Bandon’s Phil Healy wins the Women’s 200m national final in Santry last summer.

Although a number of things remain uncertain as we progress through 2021, one thing that can’t be denied is the calibre of athlete produced on Leeside at the moment which Healy is amongst.

“It’s super, even across so many sports there are so many people coming through,” she insisted.

I’m from West Cork so I always try to promote West Cork. 

"Darragh McElhinney, he’s coming through but just in terms of across all the sports it is great to see people coming through.

“We have these West Cork awards on every year so you had it range from the likes of Conor Hourihane to Paul O’Donovan to Darragh and Munster Rugby players, it’s a small area with so much talent and it’s great to see.

“That’s just West Cork so considering the county as a whole from the likes of Derval (O’Rourke) to Sonia (O’Sullivan) to Rob (Heffernan) to what is coming through now is absolutely super.

“Even the rowers alone and you have Sanita (Puspure) based in Cork, Brendan Boyce is as well, Michelle Finn, it’s just great to see and it is super positive for our county to be producing so much talent and representing the country as well.”

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