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Why being in the Olympic Village in Rio was an amazing experience for Thomas?
- Because he didn’t deserve to be there.
- Because he was excited to be among the world’s best athletes.
- Because he wanted to be on Instagram and Twitter.
Presenter: Today in our studio we meet Thomas Barr who is a member of our country’s national Olympic team. You are welcome, Thomas! Let me ask you some questions. And here’s the first one — what does your typical week look like?
Thomas: A typical working week for me is six days long. I train from Monday to Saturday doing mix of sessions — speed, technical, and gym work — on three or four of those I would be doing two sessions a day. My week is jam-packed.
Presenter: Do you ever wake up in the morning and think to yourself that you just couldn’t be bothered going training?
Thomas: Oh, yes, 100%. But I get over that by the fact that I know my coaches are going to be there, or my training partners so I’ll let them down if I don’t show up. I find the early morning sessions the worst, the last thing I want to do is get up, I’m definitely not a morning person.
Presenter: How did you wind up becoming an Irish record holder for hurdles?
Thomas: My parents encouraged me to do lots of different sports when I was younger. Myself and my sisters tried out anything that was accessible to us. Athletics was the one I was fondest of. I started at about eight years old. Up until I was about 18, I was really nothing spectacular. I was based in Waterford with a local club who brought me on to the various National Championships — I was a high jumper for a few years. I then went on to college and really wasn’t sure I even wanted to stick with athletics. There seemed to be so much more to life, there were a lot of distractions and I started to wonder if I wanted to keep putting all my time into athletics when I saw what there was on the other side of things! My parents persuaded me to give it another year. I joined a new training group in Limerick and that year was really when it all came together. I ended up running a new personal best, ran a new national junior record and made it to the European junior final so I didn’t look back from then, it all started to snowball from there.
Presenter: It must take huge commitment. Are you well behaved 100% of the time?
Thomas: My friend Kevin is beside me and is shaking his head! I try to live a balanced life. My diet is pretty clean but that’s not to say that I don’t indulge in the odd chocolate bar or packet of Cola Bottles! I do still enjoy trying to get the best out of life. Athletics is only a short-term thing for me as I only have maybe six to eight years left. I don’t want to look back in ten years’ time wishing I had done stuff when I was younger. I am into a lot of extreme sports. I love snowboarding and am also into drift car racing and that kind of thing which is pretty frowned upon by my coach and physio but it helps me to relax mentally. I am cautious when I do these things but I wouldn’t say I am well behaved.
Presenter: Touching on the mental side of things there, how do you prepare your mind before a World Championship or Olympic final?
Thomas: I try to keep myself as relaxed as I can. I tried not to let that get into my mind, and I think that’s what I need to do from now on. I have to be careful not to over-think it.
Presenter: Did you ever find yourself totally star-struck as you strolled around the Olympic Village in Rio?
Thomas: I did and I didn’t. In some ways I didn’t want to be starstruck — I was trying to act cool you know! But it was quite hard at times when you see the world’s best athletes that I had watched on TV and followed on Instagram and Twitter for years and there I was in their environment. But then I thought that I deserved to be there as well. It was an amazing experience.
Presenter: What is your favourite running route?
Thomas: I love running along the river bank on a lovely sunny day, I hate the rain!
Presenter: Do you ever run just for fun?
Thomas: My day off would rarely include a run. I run for a living, it’s my day job. The extreme sports are where my passions so you are more likely to see me jet-skiing or wakeboarding when I am not at my so-called desk!