So today it’s an absolute pleasure to present No. 60 in the 60 Seconds series, the season finale (although Season 2 is already in production!) and to give the Last Word to the Clonliffe Harriers Club Captain Joe Cooper.
Bio: Joe Cooper club Captain Clonliffe Harriers former member of: Home Farm FC , Avona BC, Larkhill United FC and Civil Services AC At 15 I was playing football (soccer) for Home Farm those days it was an 11 man team with no subs and the football was held together with a lace, the pitches were often wet and heavy under foot which made for some long tough matches, At the time the coaches from Home Farm who were very good to me came to me and said I needed to build up my endurance to last the distance of the game, so in addition to my football & boxing training I took up running,
What age did you take up the sport of athletics and why? I had always been into my exercise and anyone who knows me will know I enjoy a “few sociables” but I was looking for more of a structure and commitment to my sport so when I was 28 I took a job with An post on the Dublin to Cork mail train (many a story I could tell!!!) at this point I was running in a few local road races then I join the An Post athletics team which eventually led me to join Civil Services AC and my running career really began and many a lifelong friendship was made
When and why did you join Clonliffe Harriers? All of my children were in the local athletics club Green Field AC run by local man Des Holmes based in Albert College Park, when Green field amalgamated with Clonliffe Harriers Gladys my wife took over as Juvenile Captain and I came on board a few years later helping her out with coaching, I did a short stint as ladies captain and eventually progressing to Club Captain & Coach
What is your favourite training workout? As an athlete training for a Marathon I really enjoyed the track endurance session of 20 x 400m or 1 km reps As a coach I now see the importance of getting a mixture of session’s covering track, road and cross-country to build both speed and endurance.
And your least favourite? Least favourite for me has to be the long runs anything over 15 miles was tough both physically and mentally
What’s your favourite race / athletics meet? Any meeting / race form Belfast to Bagdad and I’m happy…..I’ve been extremely lucky to have been to European and World Championship track and cross-country as well as Olympic Games But the home grown ones are the best and the Morton Games is one that I particularly enjoy but there is lot of work that goes into organising, so you can sometimes miss out of getting the full spectator experience, Plus the after party is always great craic
What is your most cherished or proudest moment in athletics? (as athlete and/or coach) As an athlete I have 2 stand out moments the first was winning the Master Raheny 5mile in at time of 24.50 only to be broken the following year by Richard Mulligan in 24.39 and second would by finishing the Guinness now Dublin Half Marathon in a time of 68.38 As club captain / coach there have been several achievements that stand out most noticeably would be in 2015 on home turf in Santry where we won the National Senior Men’s XC Championship the National Jnr Men’s XC championship and Hope Saunders winning the Nat Jnr ladies XC Championship This was closely followed the clubs 1st win in the National Track & Field League Championship which ultimately lead to a Bronze medal in the European Clubs Track & Field Championship in Portugal. Most recently seeing Efrem Gidey take the bronze medal at the U-20 European XC championships in Lisbon which unfortunately due to ill health I was unable to attend
What was your worst injury – and how did you get over it? Plantar Fasciitis Rest, Rest and more Rest….listen to your body
(For a coach or seasoned athlete) What piece of advice would you give an aspiring athlete? Enjoy your sport.Be consistent in your training. Rest is equally important as training. “You are better off looking at it rather than looking for it (gear)” For Junior athletes the grass is not always greener somewhere else, on balance I would advise junior athletes to stay at home. I know in the past the American scholarship system produced great athletes such as O’Sullivan, Coughlan, O’Mara and Treacy but nearer to home less than 100miles away in the UK they produced Coe, Ovett, Elliott, Cram, Bedford, Morecroft, Hill, Muir and Hawkin????
Do you have any memorable or funny story from Clonliffe Harriers that you could share? (the censorship board may review!) Many moons ago a good Civil Service AC teammate of mine Mick Fennell aka Snapper had his stags do up in the Clonliffe Bar. In our drunken wisdom, we decided to have a naked 800m race. Being the professional in the group I was appointed the role as starter (naked) Just as I are about to start this prestigious event a woman form the bar comes down to the track she took one look at us and said “You’re like a Tinkers Greyhounds all Ribs and P***k with no B***S……Clearly a few shandys was had that night!!!!
What’s your favourite meal? A. For competition A good Spaghetti Bolognese with brown pasta for carb loading and plenty of water B. Outside competition From Independent Pizza, The House special with side salad & wedges
Who is your sporting ‘hero’? (athletics or other) A. Irish: Alistair Cragg, who won a gold medal in the 3000m at the European Indoor Championship (2005) and finished an impressive 4th in the World Indoor Championships (2006) and is currently the National Irish record holder for both the 5km and 10k (Track). Outside of athletics I would consider Paul McGrath to be another Irish sporting hero of mine B. International Ron Clark (long before many of you would know) “Smokin” Joe Frazier
What’s your favourite…? A. Film :Tinker Tailor Solider Spy ,Witches of Eastwik, Clock Work Orange B. Song or Album: Brian Ferry “Stick Together”, The Kinks / Luke Kelly “Thank you for the Days , Them “Its all over now baby blue” C. Book: Occasions of Sin, Roses are Red
What’s your favourite holiday destination? Cuba or anywhere there is a race meet on!!!
What’s your favourite hobby / activity outside athletics? More athletics!!!
If you were Seb Coe what changes would you implement to improve our sport? That there should be 10% added to prize money for club/coaches who have nurtured these athletes form an early age. This additional funding would be used for reinvestment into producing future athletes starting at local cub level
How would your non-athlete friends describe you? (in 3 words) Chancer Fun But serious when it comes down to training
What is your next running / athletics goal? (whenever normality returns!) To get back to full health and be back up at club with a stopwatch in hand and ready to go
How are you motivating yourself to continue training at these difficult times? All ways remember that just because the water is clam does not mean there are no Sharks about!