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'I still need to step up if I want to be really serious about going for a medal'

After a fantastic season, Nadia Power feels there is plenty more work to be done.

Ireland's Nadia Power after competing in the Women's 800m semi-final.
Ireland's Nadia Power after competing in the Women's 800m semi-final.
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

OVERALL, IT has been a fantastic 2021 so far for Nadia Power.

The 23-year-old has broken the Irish indoor 800m record on two separate occasions, only for Síofra Cléirigh Buttner to subsequently reclaim it.

Power’s excellent form has put in her in a strong position in terms of Olympic qualification– the Dubliner is currently 35th in the world rankings, and will fly to Tokyo provided she is in the top 48 come the end of June. She could also qualify automatically by achieving the standard of 1.59.50 — a very difficult task when you consider that no Irish athlete has ever run under that time in the history of 800m athletics.

While “happy” with her season, Power admits she was disappointed at failing to make the final at the most recent event she competed in – the European Indoor Championships.

The Olympics, though, has always been the main goal. 

“Even before Christmas, I wanted to go to the Europeans,” she says. “But my coach [Enda Fitzpatrick] was like: ‘I don’t think you will. I think we need to focus on the Olympics, qualification, finish up early and getting back into training by mid-February.’

“I did race a lot and was pretty tired by the Euros, but I had to play the game to get the Olympic points, and when opportunities came up to run good races and running fast times, I had to take them as I knew it would help my Olympic chances so much and it did work out really well.”

Even if Power did not run a single extra race between now and Tokyo, it looks like her past performances will be strong enough to earn her a spot at the Olympics. Still though, she is not taking anything for granted.

“It’s really hard to know,” she explains. “I would have said yes [I've done enough], but also I’m keeping it in mind that I’ve jumped 25 places in the last month. So, who knows what progress other athletes can make. I hope yes, but I’m definitely not resting on that. I don’t feel that safe at the moment, and I know I can do better in summer. I really want to secure it in my first few races outdoors.”

And as encouraging as the performances over the last few months have generally been, the European indoors served as a reminder to Power of the work that still must be done in order to meet the high standards to which she aspires.

“I think I’ve gained a lot of independence from travelling around and navigating all the restrictions with Covid and stuff. It’s definitely made me more independent and able to manage things alone and I kind of realise I can perform well with a lot of other things going on — managing college and stuff like that. But I think another learning is I still need to step up if I want to be really serious about going for a medal. The Europeans showed there’s a lot of work to do there still. It was my first senior championship and I think it’s important to remember that. So lots of progress made and hopefully I’ll be better in the future.”

B47I3038 Nadia Power, newly announced Toyota ambassador and Irish athlete is pictured as Toyota look forward to the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo. Toyota is a worldwide mobility partner to the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Toyota are leaders in mobility and their Start Your Impossible campaign celebrates the best of human performance and can be viewed on www.toyota.ie

Power’s record-breaking performances in recent months have inevitably created a degree of hype around her, but she insists it did not impact her performance at the Europeans.

“I did feel to some extent that there was pressure on me. I felt like my name was being said as ‘medal hope’. Personally, I knew if things went amazingly I could have won a medal, but realistically I understood the situation more so than the media, and different people doing the hype did. That wasn’t a pressure I was putting on myself.

“I don’t think it affected my performance at all. I needed to keep the whole thing in context. It isn’t the same thing to run fast and suddenly be a medal hope. It is a European Senior Championship. I do think I need more time to step up to that level.”

Something that should help is the new much-discussed super spikes, which Power is planning to wear when possible.

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“‘Wear them or get left behind’ was how it was on the road and that’s how it will be on the track too.

“There was [talk about the spikes] throughout the season, but not really at the championships, to be honest. You just have to get on with it at that point. Most people were wearing them. Some people like me couldn’t wear them — I’m sponsored by Adidas and I’m just waiting for Adidas’ version to be released. There was definitely more talk about it in the media than among athletes because, you know, all of us train really hard and will race really hard and you can’t put a number on how much they will help you.”

 Another positive consequence of Power’s impressive form is the increased opportunities it has generated.

Today’s media event coincided with the official launch of a Toyota Ireland Partnership, with the organisation providing some much-needed support for Power, who has often had to rely on her own savings when travelling around the world.

“I’m hoping to have [funding] in time for outdoors, which should pay for camp and my races outdoors. Because athletics is a smaller sport in Ireland, we might not get the same amount of commercial opportunities, so that’s why I’m delighted that someone like Toyota are backing us because maybe in Ireland — a lot of the sponsors would immediately go for rugby or GAA. So we are lacking a bit of opportunities there. It can be tough, but I even have a lot of people helping me this year and reaching out — a lab even offered me free Covid tests. So there are a lot of good people out there who want to help and I really appreciate that.”

Nadia Power was speaking in her role as a Toyota ambassador.

About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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