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No. 42: 60 Seconds with Harrier Niall Sherlock

Today we feature one of our crop of Masters, an athlete who still regularly competes for the club on the track and country at both Masters and Intermediate level, Niall Sherlock.

What age did you take up the sport of athletics and why? I was in second year in school so 14 and after scoring really high on the dreaded bleep test, the school coach ( Eoin Brady former national schools champion himself) asked me to join the cross country team. I ran my first race a few days later ( The West Leinster cross country) in football boots and socks as you do and finished second and was hooked straight away. 

When and why did you join Clonliffe Harriers? 13 years ago now. My good friend Terry Mc Loughlin had moved over from Donore. I had many happy years with MSB before that but wanted to train and travel to races with friends. On my first night I met Joe and he put me into a session with Peter’s group and it nearly killed me. So I was hooked all over again.

What is your favourite training workout? 10x200m . Or hills.  

And your least favourite? 6x1k with the brother. I always dread that. 

What’s your favourite race / athletics meet? The Brother Ireland schools cross country hosted by the club. As a teacher it’s always the first race of the year I get to bring my students to and for a lot of them it’s their first taste of real racing. Noel and his team put on what is arguably the best schools race in the country. I love it when an athlete of mine comes home with a medal or better still if we come home with a team medal. So many of my kids have started there and are still racing today.

What is your most cherished or proudest moment in athletics?  (as athlete and/or coach) Winning my first track gold in 15 years at the Leinster Masters. Any time one of my teams or schools athletes picks up a prize for the first time. Watching Thomas pick up the Harrier of the year award after introducing him to the club.

What was your worst injury – and how did you get over it? I have a condition called Os-Trigonum which is the presence of an extra bone between the two leg bones and the ankle. To cut a long story short it has caused me to snap my ankles a few times but in 2014 I completely snapped almost every muscle and bone around my right ankle. I almost never ran or played any sport again but through a lot of great physio and patience I eventually crawled back about 15kg heavier!

(For a coach or seasoned athlete) What piece of advice would you give an aspiring athlete? Be patient. It takes months or more likely years to achieve your goals in athletics. Success doesn’t happen over night.

Do you have any memorable or funny story from Clonliffe Harriers that you could share? (the censorship board may review!)  In Clonliffe if you mess up it stays with you for life. At one of the early runnings of the Brother Ireland race I had a great girls team with one girl a certain medal contender. I took them off for their walk of the course but a dodgy P.A system and a few dodgy old guys at the start ( You know who you are) meant we missed our call to the start and the race went off without the girls. Every year since my teams get an extra loud and extra sarcastic call up from the starters. 

What’s your favourite meal? A. For competition : Pasta Carbonara B Outside competition : Burgers

Who is your sporting ‘hero’? (athletics or other)A. Irish: The Dubs but absolutely loved watching Sonia race. B. International : Haile was my favourite growing up. Had the honour of meeting him at his home place in Ethiopia. He was a real inspiration for me.

What’s your favourite…?A.  Film  Michael Collins, The Snapper B.Song or Album: Anything by the Dubliners, The Chieftains or Oasis C. Book: The Barefoot runner about Abebe Bikila

What’s your favourite holiday destination?  Lake Garda

What’s your favourite hobby / activity outside athletics? Fishing and Golfing. Have played a fair bit of football too.

If you were Seb Coe what changes would you implement to improve our sport? Life bans for cheats. 

How would your non-athlete friends describe you? (in 3 words)  Full of bull. 

What is your next running / athletics goal?  (whenever normality returns!) National masters and international masters medals. 

How are you motivating yourself to continue training at these difficult times? We are lucky we can still run. I have cut back on training to keep it brief and to avoid the crowds but the daily run is keeping the head going. 

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