Sunday 20 October 2019

where are they now?

Cathy McAleavy

(Former Olympic sailor)

Cathy McAleavey thought that if she ever qualified for the Olympics it would be in equestrian sports. However, her brother-in-law introduced her to sailing when she was 17, she did a two-week course in Dun Laoghaire sailing school and her dream changed.

"I was a bit old to be starting sailing but was very competitive, I only had my boat about a week when I competed in my first National Championships with a guy called Adam Burnell and we finished about fifth. When I look back on it, I think I'd an awful nerve to even enter but when you are that age you think you can do anything."

McAleavey started off with a 420 and then bought a laser, she started training with a group of very experienced sailors and from there she got picked to go to the European Championships.

She married prominent sailor Con Murphy a few years later in 1985. At that time Mick Wallace was the performance manager in the ISA and he asked her to try for the women's discipline at the Seoul Olympics. They went to Wales to train but McAleavey was five months pregnant so that put a stop to her progress for a while. But she didn't let it hold her back for long and less than a month after the baby was born, she started her campaign for Seoul. Her hard work paid off and two years later along with Ashling Byrne she represented Ireland at the Olympics in the 470 class. She went on to have two more children and to this day has not stopped competing, both nationally and internationally. Just over a week ago her 21-year-old daughter Annalise followed in her footsteps by qualifying for the 2012 London Olympics.

"The main thing I'd say to Annalise is to enjoy it because it's an amazing experience. I'm delighted for her and she is an awful lot better than I was. She is consistently up with the top girls in the world."

McAleavey is heavily involved in many aspects of sailing. She is class captain for the Water Wag class who are having their 125th anniversary next year. Along with this she has been working as an apprentice boat builder in Roscommon with Jimmy Furey, and she spends three days a week living in a camper van there.

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