Thursday, July 04, 2013

IT’S the small things you remember that matter the most, or that have the biggest effect on you.
Last night I was lucky enough to cover the 62nd Cork City Sports for this paper, and I brought my two daughters Jesse and Alix to watch the event while I worked.
They are used to going to sporting events, having seen more soccer games at this stage of their lives (9 and 10) than most adults.
They are well used to sitting in stands for long periods of time, but last night they were glued to their seats in the CIT Stadium as the Cork City Sports exploded into action before their eyes from all corners of the ground.
They never once took their eyes off the action.
This was their first time seeing an international athletic meet.
This was their first chance to see track and field events that they only watched on television during the Olympics last year and they loved it.
Engrossed by it all is probably a better word to describe it.
They got to see international stars of the track and field, they got to see world champions, Olympic medallists, national record holders from 16 different countries in action on their own doorstep.
But their greatest excitement came from meeting their local heroes.
They met Rob Heffernan, what an athlete, to see him destroy the field and break the world record was amazing. (11:11:94, a new national record and a veterans world record).
The roar as he came down the home straight made the hairs on the back of my neck stand.
And he did all this while in the middle of serious warm-weather training in Spain only arriving back in Cork to compete and is on his way again today for another four-week camp in Spain.
He’s an inspiration to us all.
My girls got their picture taken with Ailis McSweeney, what a lady, despite it being a disaster of a night for her getting disqualified from the 100m for a false start, but yet she made time for everyone, despite believing she did not false start and that she was wrongly disqualified.
I don’t know if she did, but it seems extremely harsh to me as someone who plays a sports where you get two chances before being sent off to disqualify someone for one false start.
Sporting stars of more popular codes should take lessons in how to behave from our Irish athletes.
They are firmly of the belief that while it is nice to be important, it is more important to be nice.
They saw young Phil Healy, 18, in action in the 100m finishing fifth in a time of 11.91 seconds.
They were anxious to see her as I had told them all about her and her potential.
She is a multiple All-Ireland schools champion at 100 and 200m, a national junior champion, and yet the dignity and class which see carries herself shows her true worth, and what an asset she is going to be for Cork when she takes over the reigns from Derval O’Rourke and Ailis as our sprinting queen.
Seeing her sign autographs for the youngsters was funny, she is still a child herself, but moments like that make these sports a special place to be.
And it got me thinking about the value of the Cork City Sports to Cork people and what an opportunity it gives them on a yearly basis to see international athletics on their own doorstep.
But more than that it gives the kids a chance to meet their heroes and that is vital.
Watching the next generation of Cork stars aged between 6 and 15 race last night in the specially organised 300m races was uplifting.
To see the different shapes, sizes, styles and techniques mixed with raw talent was a sight to behold, and while Rob Heffernan may have stolen the headlines for the national papers, his achievement was only a poor second to that of his son Cathal in his house.
He finished second in his 300m race and the look of joy and happiness on Rob and his wife Marian captured the essence of the sports for me.
The fact that Cathal saw Rob break the world record and Rob saw Cathal do so well on the same night on the same show, where else could that have happened?
Nowhere, and that is one part of the value of the sports.
The other special moment for me came after Rob’s race.
During his interview he mentioned the pressure he felt under trying to do well in front of his family and friends.
That struck a chord with me and again it proves that no matter how great you are, or where you ply your trade everyone wants to be a winner at home.
Losing here and letting the Cork public down was a major driving force for Rob.
And my daughter Jesse realised it as well. As soon as I returned to her and Alix after Rob’s race the first thing she said to me was ‘did you hear what Rob said?
‘Running here he was more nervous than when competing in the Olympics, it must be very special to win in front of your family and friends’.
And Jesse is right, it is. Ask Sonia, Roy Keane, Seán Óg, Donal Óg or ROG and they will all say the same thing.
Ask Derval O’Rourke, who has yet to win at the sports.
Being king or queen in their home town is more important than being king or queen anywhere else in the world to all elite athletes.
The sports brought back a lot of great memories for me.
To see old school friends, old school teachers, old colleagues all watching made me realise how special this event is.
Too see the young girls carry the tracksuits of the athletes in such a classy manner in their red outfits gives the event a lift and some of our greatest athletes have begun their careers at the Cork City Sports like this.
It gives kids a chance to meet their heroes.

It gives promising young athletes like David Cussen, who is heading off to the World Youth Championship next week a taste of the big time.
He was exceptional last night, and his jump of 2.10m was first class.
James McCarthy from East Cork performed heroically in the 3,000m knocking over nine seconds off his previous best time finishing ninth.
Laura Crowe, who trains in CIT under the guidance of Cork legend Donie Walsh was another to catch the eye finishing fourth in the 800m.

The Cork City Sports is an undiscovered treasure, and I’m ashamed to say I only discovered it last night.
It’s a thing of beauty and one that should be preserved forever.
To the organisers a debt of thanks.
What ye have created is unique and long may it continue.


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By Barbara O'Connell
Contact Newsdesk: 021 4272722

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