Saturday 25 October 2014

Grassroots Club of the Week: West Waterford AC

West Waterford AC members
David McCarthy of West Waterford AC

The only thing missing at Dungarvan's West Waterford Athletic Club is an all-weather, state-of the-art running track.

This ever-evolving and progressive athletics club has a membership of 400 that includes Over-60 Masters 800m world record holder Joe Gough who, just last weekend, added a gold and bronze medal at the World Masters Track and Field Championships in Budapest to his trophy cabinet.

Another athlete competing at top international level is David McCarthy – a member of the Irish team at the recent World Indoor Track and Field Championships.

Formed in 1994, the club was an amalgamation of three existing outfits in the area: Cappoquin AC, Ballinameela AC and Old Ring Parish AC. It caters for all strands of athletics: juveniles, juniors, U-23, seniors, masters and Fit 4 Life recreational runners.

Club chairman and PRO James Veale is just one of the dynamic individuals who helps drive the club that has its headquarters at St Augustine's College. The club has a long association with the college and it hosts some of its many local league races at the impressive venue.

"The Augustinians have been very generous to West Waterford AC over many years and we are deeply grateful to them for letting us use the fine facilities at the college," Veale said.

Brother Patrick Lennon, a member of the religious community at St Augustine's College, has a big reputation in coaching at the club – especially with the pole vault and other technical events.

The club's annual signature event – the John Treacy 10 Mile Road Race – quickly sells out its 1,500 entry quota, and West Waterford AC consider John Treacy one of their own.

The Olympic Marathon silver medallist grew up in nearby Villierstown and he has been awarded honorary life membership of the club.

"We are very proud of our local hero and John has always been very appreciative and supportive of our efforts at the club," Veale said.

West Waterford AC is also very proud of the race walking achievements of Jamie Costin and Kate Veale.

Costin competed in the Sydney Olympics, but he was involved in a horrific traffic accident while attending the Athens Olympics and it looked for a while like he might never compete again.

However, he made a remarkable recovery and by a combination of sheer will, hard work and commitment to his rehab programme he qualified for the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

There were big celebrations in the club, too, in 2011 when Kate Veale won gold in the 3,000m race walk event at the World Youths' Track and Field Championships in Lille, France.



Br Patrick Lennon

Irish Independent

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