No. 24: 60 Seconds with Harrier Rory Gunning

This morning we feature another of our field eventers, an athlete who has made a big contribution to the outstanding success enjoyed by the track & field team and three time National Javelin Champion Rory Gunning.

Bio: I’m from Athboy in Meath and have been living in Dublin for over 15 years now. I’ve been National Champion 3 times and have a couple of silvers and bronzes too. I recently became eligible for the Masters which I was in denial about 😊

What age did you take up the sport of athletics and why? I started when I was 8 with Fr Murphy’s AC back home. It was just a case of me, my Brother and Sister and our friends who were brought out by our parents. I did a bit of everything except cross country, had no interest in that. I was kind of fast and could jump and throw, so I liked all that. I took a little 10 year break from the sport when I was 16\17. One night I had a look at the AAI website and saw Bart Roger’s phone number and gave him a bell. That was me back

.When and why did you join Clonliffe Harriers? I transferred to Clonliffe after joining back with Fr Murphy’s for a few years. I was always training with Bart and the group on Clonliffe time, and there was an opportunity to get more competitions in so I made the leap. It’s a lonely enough sport as it is so it’s nice to be part of a successful team. They’re a sound bunch in Clonliffe.

What is your favourite training workout? I’m not sure. When I don’t have any injury annoying me I like every part of training. I suppose if I had to choose it would be throwing practice with a group where you knock a bit of craic out of it.

And your least favourite? There isn’t really any session I can pick out there. I’ve had achilles issues for years now that I have to dance around, so if there’s a session where I cant do the running or plyo’s it bugs me. So those sessions where you’re trying to replace what you were meant to be doing, it just aint the same!

What’s your favourite race / athletics meet? I love the National Championships. I just like that everyone is competing on that day to see who is the best in the country. It gets a decent crowd too, and the night out on the Sunday is always good, not for the liver though. But there’s also the Morton Games which I got to take part in last year. It was nice to throw against a field of better throwers and I got a nice little PB out of it. I plan on doing the same again in 2021.

What is your most cherished or proudest moment in athletics? (as athlete and/or coach) I think it would be making the Irish team for the European Team Cup in 2015 in Crete. At the time it was cool and just happening, but when I think back it was such a great experience. Things like the warm up area and just seeing some high level competitors doing there thing, and the team talk in the hotel. It’s a great memory and I made friends for life from it.

What was your worst injury – and how did you get over it? It would have to be my achilles. I had a micro tear and wasn’t too disciplined for a while so that didn’t do it any favours. The Javelin throw is not easy on it like any event. I get great treatment from Ciarán McDonagh and it’s my job to stay on the top of the rehab, has to be done.

(For a coach or seasoned athlete) What piece of advice would you give an aspiring athlete? Just make sure you enjoy what you are doing. Train smart, not just hard. Always have some goal in mind, that way you can put together a plan which helps you focus. Be patient as there are no shortcuts and always be willing to listen to the opinion of others. Knowledge is power and all that.

Do you have any memorable or funny story from Clonliffe Harriers that you could share? (the censorship board may review!) Not really a haha funny story, but my first back night in Santry after 10 years, some unsavoury character busted the door lock on my car. Actually back when I was competing in the schools my Principal came over to see how I was doing. Bart was officiating and came up the field and gave him his marching orders, and was not having any of it when my Principal was trying to say he didn’t know what was wrong. It was funny seeing him being scolded and the look of disbelief on his face.

What’s your favourite meal? A. For competition B. Outside competition A. I don’t have specific competition meal. I try not to eat too heavy during the day of a competition. I think that’s more of a runner’s thing, or maybe not. I’ll have to ask around! B. That would have to be a gravy dinner courtesy of my Mam. Cant beat it!

Who is your sporting ‘hero’? (athletics or other) A. Irish B. International A. Probably Sonia O’Sullivan or Steve Collins, I’m a 90’s kid. B. Jan Zelezny- Javelin WR Holder

What’s your favourite…? A. Film – Cant pick one. You cant go wrong with Shawshank, or Rocky 4 for the cheesy soundtrack. Training Day always gets watched if it pops up on TV. B. Song or Album – Another too many to mention one. Song – Everlong by Foo Fighters would be up there. Album – My Spotify ranges from Toxicity by System of a Down to Stevie Wonders Definitive Collection. C. Book – I don’t read many books. The most recent one I read was “Jump over it” by Clonliffe’s very own Marcin Klinkosz, who is also my Coach. I would highly recommend it. The chap is a genius.

What’s your favourite holiday destination? So far it has been New York.

What’s your favourite hobby / activity outside athletics? This question has made me realise I need to take up something. With working full time and training it doesn’t leave room for much else. Maybe I should take up the drums, always thought they were cool.

If you were Seb Coe what changes would you implement to improve our sport? Well from a throwers perspective they could show more of the event at a Championships. So if they could not schedule it at the same time as a long distance race that would be great. To improve the sport overall, that’s a tough one. The sport is what it is. Maybe they could put more effort into marketing some of the top talent around the world. In other sports they can make a star out of someone which gets more people watching and that can only be a good thing.

How would your non-athlete friends describe you? (in 3 words) Doesn’t like hassle

What is your next running / athletics goal? (whenever normality returns!) I want to throw over 70 metres. I’m slowly creeping towards it, and who knows what may happen after that.

How are you motivating yourself to continue training at these difficult times? I just want to stay fit so it’s not hard to get up and do something. I enjoy exercise so I don’t need an excuse, and it’ll stand to me when we get back training properly. It’s good for the body and mind.

Rory with training partners in Morton Stadium