“I am passionate about inspiring the next generation to get involved with sport from a young age. From learning how to train to the importance of a healthy and balanced the diet, the partnership between Athletics NI and Flahavan’s is a winner when it comes to developing the local sporting stars of the future."
“In the months ahead, as the Flahavan’s Ambassador, I look forward to sharing my personal training tips with the participants as we progress through the rounds. It was great to meet the Junior Squad at the launch – and I look forward to welcoming those who are new to the competition, and the sport, in the months ahead!”
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
My name is Kerry O’Flaherty, and my main event is the 3k steeplechase – I’m currently the Northern Ireland record-holder! I became an Olympian in 2016 when I competed for Ireland at the Rio Olympics. I also competed at the 2014 Commonwealth Games for Northern Ireland, the 2015 World Championships for Ireland and at the 2016 European Championships in Amsterdam where I made the final. Cross country has always been my bread and butter for the winter season. I competed at school and earned a place on the Irish Schools’ International Team in 1995. I have now competed in many European Cross Country Championships for Ireland – including in 2015 when I was part of the bronze medal winning team in Hyéres, France.
How did you get involved in running / athletics?
I became involved in athletics at the age of 13 when I ran in a 3k road race in my hometown of Newcastle. I went on to participate in cross country in school and picked up my first Irish Schools International Vest in 1995. Cross country is where it all started for me, from here I progressed to schools track and field running 800/1500m. I came to steeplechase late at the age of 30 but I feel my years of cross country running stood by me for the switch in events.
What do you like to hear from the side-lines when you are competing? How did it make you feel to receive this support?
It’s always great to hear positive words of encouragement from spectators and coaches. When competing in big competitions such as the European Cross Country Championships, it's always good to get feedback from the team/coaches of what position you are in or what position the team is sitting in - this can really help your determination and drive to move up the field and keep picking the opposition off.
What is your advice for any young people looking to get involved in running/athletics?
It’s always good to try a few different distances or events to find out which suit your ability best. I tried cross country and track as a young athlete, and although my main love is the track, I know that cross country is part of me and makes me a stronger athlete for the summer months ahead. Setting your own goals is key and most importantly enjoying yourself and making friends through your sport.
What is the best piece of advice a coach has ever given you?
The best advice my coach has given me is to believe in myself, and also to make sure that I am enjoying my running and what I do.
How do you fuel up ahead of a big race, and how important is a healthy diet to you?
I fuel up on carbohydrates for a big race. If it’s breakfast then I would have a bowl of porridge, and a toasted bagel and peanut butter.
If it’s the middle or the end of the day I have a filled bagel or some pasta.
To run well you must fuel well and also keep hydrated. Eating 20-30mins after a training session is key for me to replace the energy stores - proteins and carbohydrates are important to me in this window. It’s all about a healthy balance of foods and variety. I like my treats but I try to be good and save these for after long runs or races.
What way do you have your Flahavan's oats?
I have hot porridge every morning made with milk. I also like to make bread and muffins using Flahavan's oats, as they are a tasty and filling snack for after training and races, and you can add a lot of different fillings and flavours.
What’s your favourite Flahavan's porridge topping?
I like to add peanut butter, raspberries or strawberries and some seeds.
- Kerry O'Flaherty, Flahavan's Ambassador 2018 - 2019