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  • Olympians In the Society: Caitriona Jennings, London 2012 Olympics

    Olympians In the Society: Caitriona Jennings, London 2012 Olympics

    05 Jun 2024

    With Paris 2024 Olympics Games around the corner, Swim & Triathlon Society is publishing a series of interviews with Olympians amongst us. This is the first of the series with Caitriona Jennings who represented Ireland competing in Olympic Marathon in 2012. Since then she has continued to scale new heights in the sport with Ultra Runner of the Year Award from Athletics Ireland in recognition of Caitriona’s achievements of winning the 50km European Championships and placing 3rd in the 100km World Championships. She set new Irish records for 50km (3:19:42), 100km (7:07:16) and 50 mile (split in 100km of 5:42:38). Her performance at the 100km World Championships also secured a World Gold (Masters) and new Over 40 World Record for 100km.

    1.Was competing at the Olympics a childhood dream?

    Absolutely! I used to daydream about competing at the Olympic Games when I was a child, but at that time I imagined that I would be swimming as that was my first sport.  I even used to think about what I would say in my post race interviews!  That dream came a little closer to reality when I attended an Olympic Youth camp for triathlon in Northern Ireland when I was 14 and had the opportunity to meet some athletes that had competed in previous Games.

    2.When and how did you know that you were going to compete? Or what lit the fire for the Olympics?

    I was selected to be part of an Irish training squad whose main objective was to have more Irish athletes qualifying for the Olympic Games Marathon.  That gave me the belief that I was good enough to run in the Olympics.  I ran 2:36:11 in my second ever marathon in Rotterdam in 2012 (the 2nd fastest of the 4 Irish girls having achieved the qualifying standard of sub 2:37) so I knew I was in with a very strong chance of being selected but I received the call officially declaring me as part of the Irish Olympic team in May 2012 while I was on training camp in Portugal.  I was ecstatic! 

    3.How did you train for the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games?

    We expected the weather to be warm so I spent alot of time on training camps in Portugal.  There was a great group of athletes there with fantastic facilities including a running track, gym (for strength work) and miles and miles of trails.  I was there with another Irish girl that had qualified in the marathon so we did alot of training in the heat together to prepare for London.

    4.Please share a fun fact at the Olympics!

    The dining room in the Olympic Village in London sat 5,000 people, and was big enough to park 80 London buses inside.  It was enormous.... and a great place to spot many famous athletes getting their pre-compeition and post-compeition meals.

    5.Competing before the world stage appears to be in the family DNA.  Do you and your sibling compete against each other?

    Yes!!  Myself and my sister (who finished 6th in the LW2X rowing event in the Rio Olympics) are fierce competitors...  luckily I still have the edge when it come to running and she definitely ranks supreme in rowing and cycling!  Her husband is also a double-Olympian so you could say that friendly board games at Christmas become pretty fierce!

    6.How do you balance your family, work and training?

    Although it can be challenging at times, I always manage to find a way as each one is so very important to me.  Ultimately, training at a high level requires significant organisation and discipline... and I usually have to sacrifice certain things (mainly sleep) to fit everything in.  But I train because I absolutely love competing and running is just part of me at this stage!!

    7.What is your advice to budding athletes who want to perform on a world stage?

    Believe in yourself and follow your dreams.  It may seem unattainable at times but just keep showing up every day and work hard and you will achieve what you set your mind to.  Of course it will be difficult at times and there will be setbacks along the way but don't let that derail your dreams.  Shoot for the sky and you will reach the clouds!