CLOGHERHEAD's Jack Mc Cullough can look forward to a promising 2013 on a number of fronts after starring in the swimming pool and on terra firma in recent months.
Not content with winning the National Triathlon title in his age group back in September, the youngster embarked on a punishing schedule of races coming up to Christmas, starting with victory in his first-ever cross-country race - the U-13 2,000m at the Star of the Sea Invitational - running in the colours of Dunleer AC.
Jack then lined out for his school Callystown NS in the Garda Sports Day 400m final, overcoming a terrible start to snatch victory in the last 10 metres. Next up was the Louth Cross-Country Championships where he dominated the Under14 race to take the gold medal, despite running out of his age group. Not surprisingly, he went on to win the Under-13 title by a resounding margin.
Donning the colours of his school again for the Drogheda & District Schools Cross-Country, hosted as always by St Joseph's CBS, Jack kicked for home from 200m out to win the 500m race for national school pupils, Callystown's first-ever such success.
Taking a break from athletics, the Dunleer AC starlet represented Aer Lingus Swimming Club in the Leinster Open Grading Gala at the NAC, competing with swimmers up to 19 years of age. Jack competed in three races on the day, winning a Leinster individual gold in the 100m freestyle and two individual bronze medals in the backstroke and butterfly 100m events.
Putting on the running spikes once more, he made his provincial cross-country debut at the Leinster Even Ages Championships, overcoming another bad start to finish third in the Under-14 race where he was again running out of his age group.
The Callystown ace went on to win the Under-13 2,500m title with nearly 20 seconds to spare, defeating the defending Leinster champion in the process.
Another convincing victory followed in the Under-13 1500m race at his home club's Noel Mc Guill/Sandra Floyd Memorial Cross-Country meeting.
The following week Jack entered his first All-Ireland CrossCountry Championship and came eighth overall, collecting an individual medal (top 12) when running out of his age in the Under-14 event.
Back in the spikes two weeks later Jack entered the All-Ireland Cross-Country Championships and finished a close second in the U-13 2500m in a race featuring more than 140 other competitors.
That silver medal was achieved despite the fact he had competed in five individual races at the ESB Swimming Gala in Dublin the day before!
First up for Jack was the 100metre freestyle where he swam very well to take the gold medal out of more than 50 entrants. Another gold followed in his favourite event, the breaststroke 100m, and he then completed a hat-trick by touching first in the 100m individual medley race, comprising all four strokes.
A bronze medal followed in the 100m backstroke, missing out on silver by a hundredth of a second, and in the final individual race of the day Jack took the silver medal in the 100m butterfly. He also steered Aer Lingus to gold in the 200m medley relay, and after running the All-Ireland Cross-Country Jack stopped off in Dublin on the way home and swam the last leg of the Senior 200m medley relay to help his club claim yet another gold medal.
Topping his achievements last year in 2013 will take mighty effort! of a