Running during lockdown gives Corroon new lease of life

Veteran of Special Olympics embraces new challenge in an effort to retain his fitness

David Corroon took up running during the lockdown. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

David Corroon took up running during the lockdown. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

 

The last place David Corroon expected to find himself in recent weeks was running 5km around the county roads near his home. Especially given he was far more familiar with the basketball court and swimming pool and not actually into running at all.

Like anyone else into their sport or exercise, the lockdown changed everything, which for Corroon began with the closing of the Shoot ‘n’ Stars Special Olympics Club in Mullingar in the middle of March. So he faced two choices: sit at home and hope for the best, or find new ways to stay active.

With his father Peter a keen cyclist, swimmer and runner, and his mother Bernie a long-serving coach and founding member of the Shoot ‘n’ Stars club, there was no shortage of encouragement. Still he had to take the first steps, and over two months on the payback has been significant.

“So the first day he ran to the front gate and back, that was about it,” says his mother. “Every day he added a bit more, then a bit more, and now he’s up to 5km a few times a week. And absolutely loving it.

“It just makes him feel happier for the day. His whole mental health is so much better. Now, he didn’t have any problem with it, but he’s definitely in better spirits, you can really see the endorphins working.

“We’d be big into exercise as a family anyway, but this has given him something completely new, I think changed his outlook. The difference has been incredible, really. He’s always been a cheerful guy, but this has given him more energy for the rest of the day, kept him more motivated. He’s certainly got a bit more spark.”

It helped that the country roads around Gaybrook, about five miles outside Mullingar, were particularly quiet during the lockdown, although the easing of restrictions have made a notable difference. Coroon may not be venturing far outside his 5km distance, even as the exercise range opens up the whole county, but it’s allowed him maintain some base fitness for whenever his preferred sports do return.

Aged 32, he’s been competing at Special Olympics events since he was eight, thanks to the Shoot ‘n’ Stars club, started by a small group of local parents back in 1997. It’s taken him to several events worldwide including the World Games in Shanghai in 2007, where the Irish team won team silver, and he now boasts a healthy medal collection from both basketball and swimming, including from the Down Syndrome Games in Southampton last year.

“He was always quite fit and athletic,” adds Bernie, “but after everything closed up from around the middle of March, his father first encouraged him to come for a run. He started going from gate to gate, adding a few more gates, and now the neighbours give him a wave or a shout when he’s out there, which helps.

“He was also missing his friends, the local resource centre was closed here too, and he was working part-time at McDonalds and Apache Pizza, in Mullingar, and they all closed up too. He wouldn’t be the fastest runner in the world, and we don’t actually do athletics in the club in Mullingar, so that’s something we might start up now too, given how much it’s keeping him fit, mind and body.

“It’s also given him time to think, and he comes back in great humour. And I think a lot of people have discovered that during the lockdown, and maybe people might live a bit more healthier from now on.”

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