Friday 24 November 2017

Record-breaking blind athlete who defied school bullies ran seven marathons in seven days

Irish athlete Sinéad Kane with her medals for completing the World Marathon Challenge Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins
Irish athlete Sinéad Kane with her medals for completing the World Marathon Challenge Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Chai Brady

An Irish woman with just 5pc sight overcame severe childhood bullying to run seven marathons across seven continents in just seven days.

Not only is Sinéad Kane a legally blind professional athlete, she is Ireland's first visually impaired solicitor and is working towards a PhD in Dublin City University on bullying.

Originally from Youghal, Co Cork, Ms Kane opened up about being "badly bullied" in school.

"When I was in primary school there was a lot of physical bullying," she told the Irish Independent.

Plasters cover the blisters on her feet Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins
Plasters cover the blisters on her feet Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

"Because I can only see about three feet in front of me students would put my school bag maybe five feet in front of me, and I wouldn't see that it was there. They would tell me they had hid it.

"I used to end up with bruises, people would think that I had accidentally fallen myself, but it was because of other students hitting me. That was very much in primary school.

"In secondary school then it was very much about isolation, and seeing me as an awkward, different student.

"It wasn't so much physical in secondary school, it was more isolation."

Despite her challenging school life, the Cork native hopes to inspire other people.

"When you show courage it has a ripple effect, so it might inspire other people to be courageous," she said.

Sinéad’s running guide John O’Regan Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins
Sinéad’s running guide John O’Regan Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Her seven harsh days of running began in Antarctica on Monday, January 23.

The following days she ran in Chile, Miami, Madrid, Marrakesh, Dubai and then finished in Sydney, financially assisted by her sponsors Allianz. Each location had its challenges, and there were times she was very close to throwing in the towel.

In the first marathon she got blisters, and her feet swelled up so much before some runs that she had to "squash her feet into her runners".

During the fifth marathon she thought: "That's it, I'm not finishing this marathon. It's clear I'm not meant to be a runner, my disability is holding me back."

But with the support of her running guide John O'Regan, her own resilience and other runners, she managed to fight her fear - and is now in the 'Guinness Book of World Records' after becoming the first visually impaired female athlete to complete the World Marathon Challenge.

Irish Independent

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