James Sullivan is back with another athlete Q&A. This time with one of Ireland’s most talented prospects, World Youth Champion, Kate Veale.
Kate Veale is a racewalker from County Waterford, Ireland. At the 2010 World Youth Olympics she finished in 4th place in the 5000m Walk. At this year’s European Cup of Race Walking she claimed the bronze medal in the Junior race over 10km. She followed this up with gold in the World Youth Championships over the 5000m Walk, Ireland’s first ever gold medal at the championships.
James: Thank you for taking the time to talk to The Running Review. So to begin, how did you first get involved in athletics?
Kate: I have been running for as long as I can remember. I joined my local club, West Waterford AC, when I was 8. I started race walking when I started secondary school in St. Augustine’s College with Br. Patrick Lennon who is still a huge help to me. Jamie Costin, who is now my coach, being in my club also inspired me to try race walking. It was in 2004 that I first said to my Dad that I wanted to try it, after Rob Heffernan and Olympic Champion Robert Korzeniowski visited Dungarvan.
James: Do you have a particular idol in the sport?
Kate: I don’t have one idol in particular. I have too many to mention. I think you can learn something from everyone and everyday someone different inspires me.
James: What drew you to race walking over other track and field events?
Kate: Well I love endurance events; it was always the longer the better for me. I like how race walking is an endurance event but there’s also an extra challenge in it as you have to focus on technique as well. I like the mixture of the endurance and technical aspects. Because of the success I have had I want to focus on race walking and see where it can take me.
James: At this year’s IAAF World Youth Championship in Lille you claimed the gold medal in the 5 Kilometre Walk, Ireland’s first gold medal in the history of the championships. Can you describe that experience? Did you expect to perform so well?
Kate: It was brilliant. I just loved the whole experience of it. I always love to get the opportunity to represent my country. It was the race I was focusing on all year. I felt good on the day and everything went right for me. My coach got the peak just right. I am very lucky to have him and he has helped me so much. I couldn’t believe it when I won; it was something I wanted so much. I was one second from a medal at the World Youth Olympics in 2010 and was focused all year on getting a medal at these Championships.
James: Excluding Lille, what one moment from your career to date are you most proud of?
Kate: The Bronze medal at the European Cup of race walking or 4th in world youth Olympics even though after it I was disappointed in not getting a medal. I was also delighted to win the U18 National Cross Country.
James: What are your goals for 2012?
Kate: The main focus of the year is the World Junior Championships and also the World Cup of Race walking. I look forward to moving up and focusing on the 10km distance.
James: Can you give us an insight into your training? What would an average week of training be like, specifically in terms of key sessions and total mileage?
Kate: It depends on the time of the year. I like to mix thing up with speed work, fartlek, progressions, hills, long walks, swimming, aqua jogging, pilates and circuits. Now I am enjoying mixing cross country running with race walking but after cross country season I will be doing all walking.
James: What are your favourite and least favourite training sessions?
Kate: My favourite session would be speed work, hills or progressions. The tougher the better. I love to just bang out a hard session. My least favourite would be a rest day. Can that count as my least favourite session?
James: What is your ultimate goal in the sport?
Kate: I think every athlete is going to say the Olympics. It’s defiantly the ultimate goal and I want to compete at them to the best of my ability. I love athletics so much and I couldn’t imagine my life without it. I Love competing at major championships and I think the atmosphere at them brings out the best in me. I want to qualify for as many major championships as possible and hopefully compete well at them. I’m looking forward to putting in the work and will do all I can to be the best I can be.
James: The current world record for the men’s 50km walk is a staggering 3 hours 34 minutes, which equates to well under sub 3 hours for a marathon, quicker than most people can run such a distance. Do you feel that some people do not appreciate the extraordinary athletic ability of race walkers?
Kate: The majority of people are very supporting and appreciative of race walking. There is a great race walking community in Ireland. I have generally gotten great support but as they say, there’s always one. There are people who maybe don’t appreciate it or realise how fast race walkers go and the work that goes into it. It’s just not really understood by some people in the general public and they think it looks silly.
James: What should be done to get more young Irish people into athletics rather than the traditional sports of football, rugby and GAA? How can the profile of the sport in Ireland be improved?
Kate: it’s great to see that the number of people participating in athletes is increasing and there is such a talent of young people coming through. I think great credit must be given to A.A.I., the Irish Sports Council, the regional athletics federations and every single club in the country for such a great job being done in our juvenile clubs. There are so many volunteers around the country spending hours every week training youth athletes. These people are so important to the sport’s development. The national and regional squad sessions and training camps are a great idea and for me they have made a big difference. I think they should also try to have the elite athletes get involved more to talk to younger athletes and answer their questions and try to promote athletics. I know I always get inspired by listening to the elite athletes talk. I think there should be more “athletics open days” like the Farmleigh family fitness day, in every county to give kids the opportunity to try every event that they might not have gotten the opportunity to try out otherwise. Events like racewalking or pole vault. I also think it should be more a part of primary school sports. Many schools have weekly GAA sessions with special coaches so why not have them in athletics also. We need to show people that athletics is the best sport
James: What are your views on athletes with B-Standards being sent to the Olympics?
Kate: There are arguments for and against, but I think it would be good to send B standard athletes to the Olympics for experience. For me going to the World Youth Olympics gave me great experience for the World youths Championships as it defiantly helped me.
James: That’s great Kate. Thank you for your time and best of luck in 2012.
Kate: Thanks and thank you for all the great coverage and promotion of athletics