FRESH off her Irish 100m Hurdle success, final year student Sarah Quinn talks Tokyo, balancing college and sport and forging friendships in the college athletics club.
By Oisín Bradley (Twitter @OisinBradley)
NUIG Commerce student Sarah Quinn completed a remarkable feat in late August, as she secured gold in some fashion at the Irish Life Health National Senior Championships.
Whilst that victory was a stunning success, it’s already firmly in the rear-view mirror, as the Ballinrobe native is already eyeing up a ticket to the bright lights of Paris for the 2024 Olympics.
“Paris 2024 would be the one that I’m aiming for. I know Tokyo has been postponed until next year and no-one really knows what’s going to happen.
“I’m going to aim high and go for it, but being realistic and thinking about my age profile, Paris is my goal and what I’m working towards, as well as all the World Championships in between.”
While looking to the future is important, it’s also nice to look back at previous successes and to reminisce, and Quinn felt it was due reward for her diligence over a trying time for everyone in sports and further afield.
“It was a great way to finish off the season. I’m only 22, and have a lot of years left in the sport. It’s good to have things coming together so soon.
“Long-term, my ultimate goal would be the Olympics. It’s the ultimate goal for a lot of people in the sport. Short-term, it (the National Championships) gave me a big boost after lockdown.
“I kept on the programme during lockdown and it was just a nice indicator that the everything was going in the right direction and the hard work was paying off. It’ll really give me a nice boost to work even harder into the Winter now.”
When Quinn, a national champion in both indoor and outdoor codes, joined NUIG she found it a challenge to adjust and find the balance between her studies, social life and commitments as an athlete. However, her close friendships steadied her focus, and markedly assisted in her development.
“It can be overwhelming when you come into college and all of a sudden, you’re training six days a week and learning five days a week. Your new friends in your course are going out three or four nights a week and you really want to put yourself in that position, but you know that’s just not possible. It’s about finding the balance which will bring the goals you want to achieve.
“Coming to college in first year, it’s hard to find that balance and it takes you a while to figure out that you actually need eight hours of sleep to perform at your best!”
“After the first semester, I found my feet and found the group of people I wanted to achieve my goals with. I found the people who will push me all the way to be the best athlete I can be. I realised I was where I needed to be to push on.”
When asked about the sacrifices she had to make, the member of St. Colman’s South Mayo AC offered a different and refreshing perspective. It’s clear that even from such an early point in her career, her drive and determination to reach the summit are clear to see.
“Everything I do is a choice, it’s not a sacrifice in the slightest. It’s a privilege to do a sport to the level that we do compete at.”
As if all of her tasks before this weren’t enough, Quinn also plays a pivotal role in the organisation of the college Athletics club.
“I’m actually co-treasurer along with Sinead Tracy, another one of our athletes. Last year I was on placement, so she took the bulk of the work. There’d be a lot of work involved in grant applications and all that sort of craic. Sinead was the main person behind that last year.”
This year is destined to be somewhat up in the air, but Quinn is determined that whatever is thrown at her and the club this year, she’ll “just have to take it in her stride!”
“This year we’ll see what’s going to be happening with the club and what we decide to do. That’ll decide how much work will be required for it. It’ll be interesting to see if the varsities and all that stuff go ahead. Those would be our main tasks, but no-one knows what’s going to happen come January.”
When quizzed about why she would recommend joining the athletics club, the tight-knit nature of the athletes was what she immediately pointed to.
“Although athletics can be quite an individual sport, the culture that we have in the college for both the distance and the sprints club are both very team-based. Although you might be taking part in an individual sport, you still get the atmosphere and support of the team.
“Athletics in NUIG is very unique in its team atmosphere and the way everyone looks out for each other. Some of the best friends that I’ve made since coming to college are my running friends.”
This exceptional athlete might have the brightest of lights in her path in the future, but it is clear that even from a simple phone call, her passion for the community she has fostered in Dangan burns bright, and she wants everyone from beginner to seasoned athlete to share in it.
“To anyone who’s looking to try it, I’d say just give it a go! It’s not as daunting as it might appear to be. We have a great thing going in NUIG and it’s a fantastic group to be a part of.”
NUIG’s Virtual Clubs Day takes place on Tuesday(11am-2pm), Wednesday(2pm-5pm) and Thursday(5pm-8pm). For more info, check out @nuigalwaysport on Twitter!
For more information on the Athletics club, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.