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‘My real goal is to win a major medal’ – Sarah Lavin insists Irish athletes can improve with better funding

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World indoor 60m hurdles finalist Sarah Lavin was on hand to launch the 150th edition of the Irish Life Health National Track and Field Championships which will take place in Morton Stadium on June 25 and 26, 2022. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

World indoor 60m hurdles finalist Sarah Lavin was on hand to launch the 150th edition of the Irish Life Health National Track and Field Championships which will take place in Morton Stadium on June 25 and 26, 2022. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

World indoor 60m hurdles finalist Sarah Lavin was on hand to launch the 150th edition of the Irish Life Health National Track and Field Championships which will take place in Morton Stadium on June 25 and 26, 2022. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Olympian Sarah Lavin is finally receiving funding from Sport Ireland this year – but only to the tune of a paltry €18,000.

She has no complaints pointing out that every athlete knows what the qualifying criterion is.

But she advocates a change in the system to allow coaches receive funding too.

“For my setup, I’d love for my coach (Noelle Morrissey) to be funded,” she says.

She acknowledges, however, that the nature of athletics means it is difficult to centralise anything.

“Ultimately funding speaks, unfortunately, in every sport. It’s easier to succeed with more money,” she adds.

No Irish athlete will receive podium funding (€40,000) this year. Essentially athletes need to medal at major championship to qualify for this level of aid.

“Athletes know what we need to do, we can’t keep giving out about X, Y or Z. We have to go and do it. We’re getting better every year, and there’s been performances across the board,” says Sarah.

“The standard of the sport is constantly improving, it’s harder, for sure, and it’s up to us as athletes to get better. That’s the business I’m in, getting better, and not giving out about X, Y or Z.

“If you look any sport, Formula One, football teams, the more money that’s behind – look at Dublin football or Limerick hurling – the more funding a sport gets, obviously success becomes easier to achieve,” she said.

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Lavin’s progress was underlined in March when in her first championship final she finished seventh in the 60m hurdles at the World Indoor in Belgrade.

Now she is focussed on the outdoor World championship in Oregon in mid-July and the European championship scheduled for Munich in mid-August.

“I want to be in the European final, for sure, and once you’re in the final things are up for grabs. From a World Championship perspective, I sure as hell want to get out of the heat and improve. Looking at my performance from Tokyo, I need to improve on that,” she said.

“I could sit back and say I want to win a medal at the two, but I have to be realistic. Right now, my PB (personal best) is 12.95. I’m going to need a 12.7 to achieve what I really want.

“My coach, Noelle, is doing a really good job and we’re adjusting to where I’m at. We’re improving every week and we have a goal in every session. My real goal is to win a major medal, and that’s the bottom line. I don’t know if it can happen this year but I sure as hell hope it can happen in the next few.”

Lavin is taking a break from her career as a physiotherapist to focus full-time on her athletic career. Her biggest critic is herself. She acknowledged her performance at the Tokyo Olympics – she finished 32nd – still gnaws at her.

“I am very, very critical and I still am, that’s just my nature. I’ve gotten to enjoy every aspect, getting to travel, finding more enjoyment in the whole thing rather than focus on the outcome of every race,” she said.

Even though she has secured enough points to qualify for the World championship ideally she would like to achieve the automatic qualifying standard of 12.84.

She has already run 13.0 flat this season. “I am a bit surprised, Noelle wasn’t, she said go for 12.9, it was a good run, conditions weren’t amazing. There was a crosswind. It’s a long season,” she said.

Lavin races three times in the next ten days on the continent but she will be back in Ireland for the 150th edition Irish Life Health AAI National championships in Santry Stadium on June 25-26.

Family members including her godmother will be able to see her perform. “I find it a very tense weekend. It is pressurised. But I really, really enjoy it,” Sarah added.

  • Sarah Lavin was speaking at the launch of the 150th edition of the Irish Life Health National Track and Field Championships which will take place in Morton Stadium on June 25 and 26, 2022. For more information on the Irish Life Health Track and Field Championships please visit www.athleticsireland.ie.

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