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Robert Corbally – the Virtual Interview

Today we have Cross Country Captain and senior endurance athlete Robert Corbally. Rob has achieved great success for the club by medalling at Nationals throughout his junior and senior career
<img src="" alt="Robert Corbally with his medal for the national 5k" /> Robert Corbally with his medal for the national 5k When and why did you join DSD AC? In first year of secondary school we had inter-class leagues in all sports, and I did pretty well in the cross country so they asked me to be on the school team. I did the East Leinster + Leinster schools XC in first year and our team was pretty good, getting medals in both. A year later and I finally gave into the nagging of my best friend who was in DSD at the time and I went training one evening – once Eddie got a hold of me there was no way I was allowed to leave (and my friend quit because I dropped him on the run). What was your best event and what event did you like best? 3k is my favourite, although I’m not sure if it’s my best (I like to think it is). I generally prefer track to cross country because I tend to be less covered in muck afterwards, most of the time anyway. What is your favourite training workout? It kind of depends on how fit I am. Sometimes when you’re in great shape a sharp session on the track is good, but in general I probably prefer longer, steady workouts. Probably the best session I ever had was with Paul last year when we did 1k, 2k, 3k, 2k, 1k on the track – every lap in 72s until the last 1k when we did 68s and we both felt great. And your least favourite? Really short stuff (like 200s) on the track – although I rarely do proper ‘speed’ sessions nowadays. Any session can be bad when you’re feeling terrible though. What is your most cherished or proudest moment in your athletics career? Two stand out for me in particular. Winning the u18 3k at the Celtic International when I was a kid – it was one of those very rare days where I felt so good that it was almost ‘easy’, and it was always nice to win a race in an Irish singlet. More recently, finishing 2nd in the 5k at national seniors a couple of years ago was a big thing for me. It’s all well and good to get medals at underage level but there’s nothing like getting a national senior medal. What is your most loved athletics sporting moment of all time? One that stands out in my mind, which I saw on video for the first time this week, was Colin Costello and Danny Darcy finishing 1st and 2nd in the European Junior 1500m. I was a few years younger than them and we used to watch them battling it out in all of the schools and club races, really great head-to-head battles. The races were always the same, Danny going off hard from the gun, Costello just sitting on his heels until the home straight, when more often than not he would just about nip the win. The Euro Juniors proved no different and they didn’t pay a blind bit of notice to the rest of the field. Danny hitting the front from the gun and Costello managing to just outkick him on the last lap, leaving the rest of the European Juniors in their wake. What is your favourite race / athletics meet to take part in? Any national championship is always a winner, but the national road relays always has a great buzz and while the competitive nature of the team event in cross country is great, there is an extra special bit of intrigue seeing the top clubs battle it out in a relay format which includes everyone from 800m runners right up to the longer distance athletes. What was your worst injury – and how did you get over it? Stress reaction in my foot in 2018 – only time I’ve ever had anything that stopped me running. Took almost 2 months before I could run. I was in the pool or on the exercise bike almost every day for the 2 months and eventually I got back running as normal. It really made me realise how much I appreciate the act of running as opposed to other exercise. It also made me realise how your training group provides half of the enjoyment that we get from the sport. What do you eat before a race and how long before do you eat? I have my usual breakfast in the morning: porridge, apple, yoghurt, banana, pint of water. Then unless the race is later in the day I’d only have a banana and maybe a sandwich within 2 hours of the race. If you could have dinner with 3 sporting personalities past or present who would you pick ? Roger Federer, Haile Gebrselassie, Lionel Messi. I’d probably invite Chris Thompson too because he’s a sound lad who can run fast. What is your next running / athletics goal? I’d like to win the Olympics, but apparently I have to wait until next year now for that. All joking aside, I’d like to improve some of my track times if we ever get to race again. I’m getting old now, but I reckon I can still go a bit faster than I have already. How are you motivating yourself to continue training at these difficult times? It’s the only time I get out so it’s not taking much motivation at all – I’m delighted I can still get out and run. What piece of advice would you give an aspiring athlete? Listen to your coach and stick to your training plan, but also don’t overthink things or worry too much. It’s supposed to be fun! We all have bad days but if you want to be successful you’ll need learn to get over them pretty quickly and focus on the positives. Do you have any memorable or funny story from DSD that you could share? I remember one day, about 10 or 12 years ago, running around the hills in Marlay on our easy Thursday run. There was a good group of maybe 8 or 10 of us. As we were jogging past the ‘tree’, I was at the back of the group just as we happened to be passing Eddie. Now Eddie was in his prime in those days (sort of), and he was getting a few miles in himself – or at least a few hundred metres anyway. As we ran past him, he started shouting at me, giving me a bit of a slagging for being at the back of the group, a bit of casual banter – as was standard. Anyway, as a bit of background, Eddie was a fairly established steeplechaser (and boxer) in his day, so it wasn’t unusual to see him running towards one of the park benches as he slagged us for running too slowly. We had kind of passed him at this stage, and in my mind, he was presumably just going to give us a bit of a demonstration in how to do a bit of hurdling. As we ran the opposite direction I was intrigued to see how he would negotiate the ‘barrier’, presumably in a similar fashion to how he would have negotiated the last barrier when coming home to a national medal in the steeplechase, just a few years before. While he was once a prolific steeplechaser, he was perhaps slightly beyond his best at this stage, so I looked on in awe to see how he would ease over the bench with grace, presumably not even breaking stride – to remind us that he wasn’t fully past it just yet. As I glanced behind to witness this wonderful spectacle, I was amazed by how causally he approached the ‘hurdle’, appearing completely unphased by the casual pace at which he approached it or how he might have to adjust his stride pattern to ensure a graceful clearance. What I witnessed was one of the most elaborate spectacles of human acrobatics that I’ve ever seen. Not only did he not break stride, he didn’t even bother to jump! He hit the bench with seemingly enough force to send his legs above his head as he performed an unorthodox but impressive somersault before landing in a heap on the footpath. I remember JJ rushing to his rescue and bringing him to safety – I think he pretty badly damaged his ribs. Turns out he just never saw the bench. Can you share an old picture from your running days 1) Me finishing just behind my arch-rival Rob Fitzsimons in the u15 All Ireland 1500m. 2) One year later, the start of the Dublin u16 1500m where I beat my arch-rival for the first time. 3) A few more years later when I used to pretend to be good at the steeplechase.
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