Megan Marrs relishing following in her parents’ footsteps

With both parents competing in sport at the at a high-level Megan Marrs was always destined to follow in their footsteps.

By Ciaran Donaghy
Sunday, 26th June 2022, 6:00 am
Updated Sunday, 26th June 2022, 10:29 pm

Her mother Debbie McDowell represented Great Britain at the high jump in international competition while father David Marrs donned the Northern Ireland vest as a sprinted and also played rugby for Ulster in the 1980’s.

The 100 metres hurdler has been selected to represent Team NI at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham next month, a feat made all the sweeter as Marrs missed the Gold Coast four years ago. 

“It obviously feels brilliant,” she said. “I narrowly missed out in 2018, so since that day this has definitely been my top goal. 

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Megan Marrs (right) training with Team NI colleagues Anna McCauley and Kate O’Connor

“All through those four years this is the one we have been looking towards so to actually make it is brilliant. 

“I remember sitting at home watching everyone competing at the Gold Coast and saying the next time I will be there, and it feels good.” 

Like everyone else due to Covid restrictions it has been a strange cycle between Commonwealth Games for Marrs, but all the hard working has paid off. 

“The past four years have been a bit of a roller coaster anyway,” she said. 

“2018 I ended up having my best season to date, so it has definitely lit a fire in me that I wasn’t selected. 

“I then went and won my first British title, but the injuries and Covid hit so it was a very rocky few years. 

“I didn’t compete for a year, I had a year out and now just building back this year feels great. 

“I was out for six weeks after the indoor season, I had a bit of an Achilles injury followed by a hamstring. 

“But I was able to come out and do a few early season races just to prove to the selectors that I will be ready in August and now I’m just rebuilding.” 

Marrs’ parents have been a big influence on her career. 

“Both my parents were international athletes, so I always sort of grow up around the track,” she said. 

“At 14 I started out as a high jumper and my mum would take my sessions. 

“Then I gradually just realised that I preferred running, I used to combine the hurdles and the high jump but then eventually I just went to the hurdles. 

“My mum was actually the last woman from Northern Ireland to represent Great Britain on a European indoor team in 1988 before I was. 

“My dad sprinted but he also played rugby and that was his forte so they were very sporty. 

“I’ve been on the Mary Peters track since I was a few weeks old, but it wasn’t until I was 13 or 14 that I decided it was what I wanted to do.” 

A women’s 100m hurdles race normally lasts less than 13 seconds but that doesn’t reflect the hours of dedication the athlete has to put in to be ready for a major event like the Commonwealth Games. 

“There is a lot of hard work, especially as I got older there were more and more sacrifices,” Marrs said. 

“Whether it was missing all of the girl’s holidays, I have never been on one, even things like I stretched my university degree over five years instead of three just so I could focus on training. 

“It is just not having summers essentially; you do get to travel but it is all work, but it has paid off. 

“I train six days a week for three to four hours a day, in the season it is slightly less as we would maybe take two rest days. 

“It is usually one big day in the gym, two bio days, three or four track sessions but tapering of the closer we get to competitions and prioritising recovery.” 

After a four-year wait to grace the Commonwealth stage Marrs, will be 15 athletes representing Team NI, wants to put in a big performance in Birmingham. 

“I just want to get there, run the best I can and hopefully get into that final and finish as high as possible,” she said.

“Especially for a home games I think getting as many athletes as we can on that starting line and in that arena the more athletes we have there this time the better or chances of top eight finishes and hopefully the more places we can get in the future.” 

As well as competing in Birmingham the Loughborough-based athlete is hoping to soak up as much of the Commonwealth Games experience as she can. 

“Since I was about 15, I have been in a multi-sport environment so I think definitely getting into the village meeting people from all sports and all countries and just the whole atmosphere of it,” said Marrs. 

“It is also going to be my first-ever holding camp before it so I’m excited to see what we can do being away from everything for two weeks within a little bubble. 

“It is going to be my first experience of the full games.” 

Marrs has a full-on schedule before arriving in Birmingham. 

“I’ll be back in England where I’m based to get a few solid weeks in with my coach over there then I’ll fly back here in early July to prepare to fly off to Slovakia with the team,” she explained. 

“So it is just head down, training, cancel all social plans.”