Ireland's gold medal hero Robery Heffernan.
Ireland's gold medal hero Robery Heffernan.
His mentor Rob Heffernan just got gold and Brendan Boyce finished a very impessive 25th with a new personal best of 3:54:24 in the same race in Moscow at the World Athletics Championships. But it all started for Brendan in the HSE Community Games, where he came second in the 60 metre sprint when he was just 7!
Proving that you don’t have to be good at just one thing or limited to one sport, Brendan also came 6th in Ireland in the walk in the Community Games and was a member of the volleyball team which won silver. This is on top of being part of the Relay and Cross Country team. The HSE Community Games afforded him opportunities to participate in a wide-range of events.
Things are heating up in athlone with only 2 days to go until the HSE Community Games Festival kicks off in Athlone IT (16th to 18th August) and here Brendan chats with Communtiy Games:
Community Games: What did it feel like when you heard you would be taking part in the Olympics in London in 2012?
Brendan Boyce: I had 3 moments of complete joy and relief before the Olympics, I did my first ‘A’ Standard in September 2011 which was a great moment but the 50km was an event where 4 people were trying to get 3 places so I had another moment in March 2012 when I did the ‘A’ standard again and beat two of the other guys in the hunt for spots on the team. I was pretty confident I had my place in London after that but I still had to get the call in May to say I was officially selected. That was like a huge weight being lifted off, so it was a very emotional year for me more than most.
CG: How often do you have to train before taking part in a 50km walk?
BB: I did my first 50km in March 2010 and I decided to train for it in September 2008, so that was a year and a half preparation for my first 50km and I still hit the wall at 35km. I’ve only done 3 more since then and I’ve got faster every time. So its really an event you can only learn by doing it. Training is always ongoing and accumulating. I take about 6 weeks out when the season is finished each year.
CG: What is the longest distance you have ever race walked?
BB: I’ve never walked over 40km in training, so the race is the longest I’ve ever done. There is always an element of the unknown going into races. Physiologically there is no real benefit to training over 40km it’s all mental after that point and making sure your drinks and energy levels are right.
CG: When you were growing up, who was your sporting hero?
BB: I remember being fascinated by Michael Johnson as a young kid and I spent most of my young career on the sprints and jumps. I was second at National Community Games final when I was 7 in the 60m sprint. Also on an Irish front Sonia O’Sullivan was the one breaking down barriers for athletes and it was great that she was Chief de mission for the Olympics, which gave me the chance to finally meet her.
CG: Do you think there is a link between eating well, doing exercise and feeling good?
BB: As a full time athlete my life has only 3 real components, training is obviously the main part of that but it probably takes up the least amount of time of the 3 elements. I spend a lot of time cooking and eating, making sure I get the right foods at the right times. I eat 5 times a day to keep my energy levels up for my volume of training and to keep my body in full health. The last is sleep, its vital for recovery and in my hardest training in the summer months I would get 11-12 hours of sleep a day. I try get 9 hours at night and then another 2-3 hours during the day between training sessions. I couldn’t feel good in training otherwise.
CG: What is your fondest memory of being in the Community Games?
BB: When I qualified out of my county final it was a similar feeling to getting my Olympic qualifying time. The whole weekend of the Community Games finals was the reward for a year of training. I always had a competitive instinct to race so I would only switch into racing mode just before my races. The rest of the weekend was just great fun, meeting all the athletes from other counties and having a laugh with other people who love sport as much as you. It’s the perfect platform for developing the massive amount of athletic talent we have in Ireland.
CG: What is next for you? Are you going to try for Rio in 2016 (we hope so!!)?
BB: Rio is where I should be close to the peak of my career and I hope I can continue to work with Robert Heffernan as he has been our greatest athlete of the past decade. My goal in athletics was always to see where my limits are and I’ve got PB’s every year since I started race walking at 12 years of age. I think I’ve still got a few years of development left. Hopefully my limits lay in the medal range some day.
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