A group of businesses from Downpatrick have come together to help Olympic hopeful, Kerry O’Flaherty, fulfil her Olympic dream.
Downpatrick businesses – McGrady Financial Services, McGrady Insurance and M.B McGrady & Co. Chartered Accountants –are sponsoring Kerry on the final sprint towards Rio, funding two months of gruelling altitude training in the Pyrénées, which takes place from this week.
Kerry will base herself at Font Romeu, in France close to the border with Spain, where she will be pushing herself to the limit to ensure she is fully prepared for the Olympic stage.
Hailing from Newcastle in Co. Down, Kerry is one of Ireland’s best track and field athletes. In July 2015, Kerry achieved the qualifying time in the 3k Steeplechase required for the Olympic Games this summer in Brazil and is currently ranked as Ireland’s number 1 female steeplechaser.
Kerry said: “To compete at the Olympics has been a dream for as long as I can remember so being this close to reaching Rio is an incredible feeling.
“The support of McGrady Financial Services, McGrady Insurance and M.B McGrady & Co. Chartered Accountants has been crucial to my progress, as becoming an Olympic athlete is a seven days a week commitment, leaving no time for the security of normal employment.
“The financial backing from the Group has allowed me to take my training to the next level, which is vital when competing at the highest level in sport.”
Heading off to altitude camp this week marks the last leg of Kerry’s journey before the Olympics in August, and it is from here that she will travel in July to the European Championships in Amsterdam before hopefully heading to Rio on the 28th July.
Malachy McGrady, Partner with M.B McGrady & Co. Chartered Accountants says: “Since we committed to sponsoring Kerry on her journey to the Olympics, it has been admirable watching her dedication and drive to succeed. The energy and time that she has put into her training is commendable and we wish her the very best on the last leg of her Olympic goal.”
Training at an altitude of 1,850 metres above sea level, Kerry aims to leave no stone unturned in her preparation to compete at the Olympic Games. The training centre in Font Romeu was established in preparation for the Mexico Olympics in 1968 and today it is a favoured preparation venue for endurance athletes from around the world, including Mo Farah. As well as running up to 70 miles a week in the thin air in the mountains, Kerry will also regularly make the 90-minute trip to Perpignan at sea level at the Mediterranean to do key sessions in the type of heat that is expected in Rio – 30 plus degrees. The need for her to acclimatise to the heat is one of the key lessons she learned when competing at the World Championships in Beijing last summer.
“We realise that to perform at such a high level - preparation is key, so when the opportunity arose to back a talented local athlete who has given up everything to follow her dreams, we joined forces with McGrady Financial Services and M.B McGrady & Co. Chartered Accountants”.
“Collectively, we came together to give Kerry the financial help and backing to enable her to head off to France to benefit from the best training platform that is available,” adds Fintan McGrady, Managing Director with McGrady Insurance.
Managing Director of McGrady Financial Services, Philip McCrickard, concludes: “Kerry is an inspirational athlete, who embodies hard work & dedication to reach her goal. As local business owners, we’re privileged to be supporting a local athlete – who’s one of Ireland’s finest - and this summer, we’ll be 100% behind Kerry in her journey to Rio.”
Notorious as one of the most difficult track and field events, the 3,000m Steeplechase is Kerry’s chosen event. She is currently ranked first in Ireland and the Irish Olympic Track & Field team is due to be announced at the end of the Qualifying Period around the 12th July 2016.