Olympian Irish women: ‘There’s no better buzz than standing on the starting line’

The Women’s Podcast talks to three Olympic athletes on their way to represent Ireland in Rio

Rio bound: Ciara Everard, Chloe Magee and Natalya Coyle

Rio bound: Ciara Everard, Chloe Magee and Natalya Coyle

 

“For me, there’s just no better buzz than standing on the start-line getting ready to compete. I’m just going to be so proud to put on the Irish vest and do everyone proud,” says runner Ciara Everard, who will represent Ireland in the 800 metres at the Rio Olympics.

It hasn’t been an easy run-up to the games for Everard, who was nursing an injury at the time of this interview.

“I was diagnosed with a stress fracture so, yeah, it has probably been the most stressful couple of weeks and it’s certainly not ideal preparation in the build-up for the Olympics,” she told The Irish Times Women’s Podcast.

It’s the first time the 26-year-old from Kilkenny will be competing on an Olympic stage and she says she has worked hard to make sure she has strategies in place to help her cope with the pressure.

“I would say mentally, actually, over this year I have improved the most so hopefully that stands to me,” she said.

One of the things Everard has learned is the importance of striking the right balance between work and play. She does not go in for a very restrictive diet, but rather focuses on eating good food at the right times, while still leaving room for the odd treat. She also tries to get out and see her friends.


“I mean the social life is limited. I can’t be out partying all night, definitely not. Alcohol and things like that are out of the question in the lead up to games. I like going to dinner with friends – that’s a nice outlet for me. But partying in Coppers until 4am is not really a suitable social outlet,” she said.

For Donegal woman Chloe Magee, there has been little room for any downtime on the road to Rio. She has had a gruelling schedule of qualifiers to secure her place in the singles badminton event and there has been no let up since.

“There won’t be many days off between now and Rio, but I think that’s how I’d like it. I’ve made a good plan and what I’ve decided to do between now and Rio will get me ready for where I want to be when I step onto that court,” she said.

Magee is already a veteran of the Olympics at the age of 27. She represented Ireland in Bejing in 2008 and at the London 2012 games.

So, what is it like competing at the Olympics? That is a tough question, says Magee.

“It’s hard to put into words. You’re just in this village full of so many elite athletes, you know? They’re the best athletes in the world and I think that alone is something that’s so special,” she said.

Natalya Coyle can relate to that. At London 2012, her favourite pastime was people watching in the canteen at the Olympic Village.

“One second you’re sitting there and the Queen could be there in London, floating around, or you could see Michael Phelps, you could see Usain Bolt, Jessica Ennis or anyone. I think that’s the joy of it … The village is a different world unto itself. It’s difficult to describe,” says the 25-year-old from Meath, who will compete in the modern pentathlon.

As the name suggests, there are five elements to it: running, swimming, fencing, show jumping and shooting. The event takes place over one day, with the women’s competition on the penultimate day of the Olympics followed by the men’s the next day.

It’s a longer wait than some, but Coyle is raring to go.

“There’s no greater honour than to represent your country and wear your tracksuit. If that doesn’t get you pumped then I don’t know what else would,” she said.

We want to hear your thoughts. Email thewomenspodcast@irishtimes.com or message us on Facebook or Twitter @ITWomensPodcast. Individual episodes of the podcast are available on Soundcloud, iTunes, Stitcher and on irishtimes.com.

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