A YOUNG pole vaulter who continues to climb new heights and an exponent of the ancient art of weight throwing are the latest to be honoured as Cork City Sports Athletes of the Month.
Conor Callinan from the Leevale club had already received the award back in October 2020 and on this occasion received it for his performance in January at the National Indoor Arena where he set a new Irish junior indoor best of 4.75m. This was also a Cork County senior and junior record for the event.
“It’s really nice to get this award; it is a great reward for all the achievements and hard work. I broke the national U20 record back in January and then I won the national seniors two weeks ago and this past weekend I won the national U20 title,” said the 17-year-old.
“The national juniors were in Athlone and I jumped 4.65m which was my third best jump ever, so I’m happy enough with that.”
Callinan started off his sporting career at the tender age of five doing gymnastics and then, when he was nine, commenced pole vaulting.
“My coach for sprinting at the time, John Naughton, suggested that I should try pole vaulting and I started at 13 and haven’t looked back since.”
With the outdoor season starting in May, there’s a lot to look forward to for the Derek Neff-coached athlete and Conor admits it would be great to be one of the vaulters at the Cork City Sports, scheduled for Tuesday, July 5.
“I’ve always gone to the Sports but haven’t competed so it would be nice to if I got the chance.” Conor Callinan was accompanied at the function in the River Lee hotel by his mother Olive, sister Shona and grandmother Mary.
For winning the 56lb for distance at the Irish Life Health/National Indoor Championships, Michael Healy of Youghal AC received the Cork City Sports Athlete of the Month for February.
At the championship which took place at the Sport Ireland National Indoor Arena, Michael recorded a much-deserved victory with his throw of 8.21m. This was the first time that a weight thrower has been honoured with the monthly award and Healy said it meant a lot to receive it.
“I’ve been weight throwing now for a good few years so it’s great to be recognised for it. At the senior indoors I knew I had to beat Seán Breathnach to win and would have to do a PB to beat him, so I was happy to get the win as Seán has been the champion since 2014.”
The 56lb (or 25kg) for distance is an old Celtic event that traditionally was a big attraction at the old sports meetings in days gone by. Michael Healy’s first event in athletics was the high jump but he was inspired to take up weight throwing by his brother, Barry. Michael also excelled at the decathlon, winning national medals at this demanding event.
And to make it a great family day at the national indoors, his brother Barry also made the podium when taking bronze with a throw of 7.51m. And for good measure, Barry’s girlfriend, Becky Watson, just missed out on the medals when finishing fourth in the 28lb for distance with a PB of 5.84m.
Michael says he has been greatly influenced by his older brother: “I suppose the roles have been somewhat reversed as it used to be Barry always winning and I coming second, third or fourth.
“Obviously you have to be fairly strong and heavy so there is a lot training involved (and a lot of eating!). I would train four days a week inn the gym with weights and a couple of days on the track, with one rest day.” Michael also played rugby from a young age but has been concentrating on the weight throwing now for the past number of years.
The Healy name is much associated with rugby in the seaside town as his father, also Michael, has made a huge contribution to the game. He also ran many marathons, along with finishing second in the Cork County novice cross-country championship back in 1976.
Award winner Michael Healy was accompanied at the function by his girlfriend Kate O’Callaghan.
The Cork City Sports Athletics Person of the Month Award is sponsored by the River Lee, 96&C103FM, The Echo, Cork Crystal and Leisureworld.