Phil Healy sees stepping stones and need for more Government funding

Healy fell short of making the final of the women’s 100 metres in Berlin on Tuesday

Ireland’s Phil Healy is interviewed by RTE after her race. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Ireland’s Phil Healy is interviewed by RTE after her race. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

 

Nothing ever gives among the pure speed merchants, something Phil Healy has just learnt and also believes will serve her well when she trades back up to her preferred distance.

Inside a positively balmy Olympiastadion, Healy fell short of making the final of the women’s 100 metres – effectively one-quarter of her preferred 400m: she finished her semi-final in seventh in 11.46, still one of her fastest times of the season, still with the 200m to come on Friday.

Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith took the win in 10.93 – that’s the sort of speed required here – only Healy had no regrets in trying, having lowered the Irish record to 11.28 this season, and also the 200m mark to 22.99.

“I actually thought I was a little closer, but really happy overall,” said the Cork athlete, and if positivity counted for another split second it might have been closer. “My time, 11.46, doesn’t matter that much, it’s all about places in the championships, but that’s still one of my quickest runs. I ran my 11.28 with a +2 headwind, so really happy with the performance.

“But this was always a stepping stone to the 200m, looking forward to coming out again on Friday. I haven’t run much slower than 11.4 this year, and speed is only something you can improve on. I’m making progress.”

Representing Ireland on this stage is clearly a big deal for Healy, as it should, and she echoed the timely and somewhat touchy subject of Government funding for sport: at age 23 she falls outside any of the designated carding-scheme allocations, but is still supported as an emerging or ‘developmental’ under-23 athlete. She does, in other words, still support herself to some considerable extent to ensure she can be at her best come championship time.

The first-level ‘international’ grant worth €12,000, which only six Irish athletes currently qualify for; another four are ‘world’ class (€16,000-€20,000), and Thomas Barr is the sole ‘podium’ class, worth €40,000

“I’m on the development fund. It’s not the international level, but at a development stage, just out of 23. The cut-off was December, so the times I ran indoors and outdoors will qualify me for the international grant, hopefully, so that’s something for next year, the category above.

“They say they’re doubling the budget, and look at the performances we’ve had across all sports the last number of weeks. Athletes will always need funding to get them to the next level, and I’m lucky to have the support of Waterford IT as well, which is massive, but there is a certain point where you have to go abroad for camps, so there is a self-funding aspect to it. There is that, always.”

Still no regrets about racing flat out 100m; the trade up will likely come for Tokyo 2020. “I concentrated on the 400m indoors, but now I was to capitalise on the speed I have. The 400m is the long term game, and you can always build year on year, but for now I want to take the 100m and 200m as far as I can. I’ve still work to do there, want to achieve more.”

A total of €1.85m was given out earlier this year under the Sport Ireland International Carding Scheme: a total of €1.9m has been budgeted for 2018, the full amount to be allocated by the end of the year.

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