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'My life has changed completely' - Juggling work and training on the road to the Rio Olympics

Katie Fitzhenry is hoping to help Ireland’s Sevens team secure their Olympic spot.

Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

WEXFORD’S KATIE FITZHENRY broke into the Ireland rugby team earlier this year and helped to secure a second Women’s Six Nations title in three seasons.

Now the 26-year-old is setting her sights on the 2016 Olympics as part of the High Performance Sevens squad.

She talks The42 through the hectic routine that will hopefully lead her to Rio next summer.

It’s absolutely nuts to think that this time next year I could be an Olympian

“Any sports person wishes for it but I came from camogie and football and there’s no Olympics there, or even playing rugby, there’s still no Olympics. It’s very new to us but I’m getting used to it and the possibility is very real for us.

“We have a great opportunity here and hopefully we’ll be able to take it.”

My life has changed completely

“We start training at 1.30pm every day, Monday to Friday, and we train probably until about 7pm. Each day we have a gym session and we have a pitch session as well. At different times of the year we might have two pitch sessions.

“I don’t think I’ve ever trained so much in all my life but at the same time, you get used to it. As a group we’ve grown a lot over the last year and we’ve a new coach which has put new structures on us. It’s working at the moment and we’re going well.”

I work part-time in the mornings

“I leave work about 12.30pm every day. I work in juice bars and I leave the house at 7.15am, 7.30am every morning. That’s my day and you just get on with it.

“Thankfully we don’t train at the weekends so my weekends are my own unless I have to work, so I do get to spend time with family and friends. During the week, that’s a no-go area!”

Katie Fitzhenry on the attack Fitzhenry made her Ireland debut in the Six Nations win over Italy this spring. Source: Ivan Marianelli/INPHO

Finding time for recovery can be hard

“Particularly on heavy weeks where we might do a lot of contact and a lot of running — they can be really draining but then not a lot of weeks would be like that. They manage us well as a coaching staff which is great.

“I’m lucky as well that I can go to work if I need a day off and generally it’s fine. The coaches and my boss are very approachable and I can sit down with them a daily basis and discuss anything that isn’t working or needs to change.”

I try to make good food on a Sunday and throw it into the freezer

“We’re lucky enough that we get fed twice a week after training so we don’t have to worry about it on those two days. Every other day then when you go home, unfortunately the two hours before you head to bed are spent on preparing for the next day, getting everything ready so that all you have to do is get up, have breakfast, and leave the next morning.

“You get used to it. There’s three of us in the house so we all help each other and it’s not as bad.”

– Katie Fitzhenry was speaking at the launch of a new certificate in Dual Career Development by Griffith College in consultation with the Irish Institute of Sport. 

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Niall Kelly

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