Doherty overcomes injury to land three National titles

RIONA Doherty had a fantastic Indoor athletics season as she won three National titles, and to make her success all the more remarkable, she did it while having two fractured bones in her left foot.
It proved to be a whirlwind few weeks for Doherty, as she cleaned up against the best young athletes in the country.
After excelling at the Ulster Championships, the Stranorlar girl headed with confidence for the Irish Life Health National Juvenile Championships in Athlone.
She was in imperious form, winning the Under 16 60 metres sprint in a time of 7.90 seconds.
The St Columba’s student was back in action the following day, and scooped another gold, as her time of 8.94 seconds saw her land the 60 metres hurdles crown.
Doherty wasn’t finished there and two weeks later, she returned to Athlone for the Under 16 Long Jump, and won that discipline as well. Her first effort of 5.42 metres was the best on show.
Doherty was the only athlete in Ireland to win three gold medals at the National Championships, which demonstrates her impressive talent.
The 15-year-old was this week presented with the Donegal News Sports Star of the Month award for March, in conjunction with Brian McCormick Sports & Leisure, and she talked through a brilliant indoor season.
“I had the Ulsters and they went very well.
“I wanted to push on at the All-Irelands but I wasn’t sure if I would be able to get on top because the competition is so tough.
“But it just went so well for me. The thought of having a national title is unreal, and to win three in the space of two weeks is really just unbelievable.
“It was a great indoor season for me.”
Riona is the daughter of Noel and Maggie Doherty, and she has been involved with Finn Valley AC for the best part of a decade.
“I was about six when I first joined. I was off and on for a bit. I stopped for a while, and then I went back when I was eight.
“A girl went down sick and they needed a person for the relay for the All-Ireland.
“My mum got a message, and I ended up running in the relay, and I have been back since.
“I’ve won a few national titles since 2016 up. There wasn’t much on over the last two years so it was nice to get back to it this year.”
The Covid lockdown was a difficult time for all teenagers, and it would perhaps have been understandable if some interest waned when athletes couldn’t compete or train. Doherty stuck at it but admits that it was a challenge.
“I was training but it just wasn’t the same.
“You weren’t interacting with anyone. I prefer running with people because it pushes you on more.
“I would train with Hannah Murray and she is always pushing me on in the sprints and it’s the same with Amy Timoney. So you had none of that and it was difficult to keep at it.

“For the long jump, you need a pit, so it was hard without that.
“We could make hurdles at home, and you could do sprints up hills, but I couldn’t really do much for the long jump.
“You didn’t know where you were at or where others were. Some people could be developing much more and others might lose a bit.”
Doherty says she loves all her events, but added that the long jump is more technical and that it ‘takes a good bit of practise to try and master it’.
However, she is fortunate that she has a state-of-the-art Finn Valley campus to help with training and hard-working coaches who are keen to get the best from their athletes.
“I would normally train about four or five days a week, and I would be doing my core programme every day.
“I enjoy training. For the 100 metres sprint, we could be doing 120 or 150 metre runs just to build up the stamina.
“Rosemary Finn, Paul Wilkinson, and Ciara Kearns are my coaches and they are all brilliant.
“There’s a good group there and it’s great fun.”
Unfortunately, Doherty missed most of the Track & Field season as she has been laid up with a foot injury.
Remarkably, she has had the problem from early in the year, and was still able to land three national medals while dealing with it.
“I actually picked up the injury in February. I didn’t realise it was as bad at the time.
“I got a sharp pain in my foot but I ignored it because it was manageable. I would have a high pain tolerance. It was on and off and it didn’t really bother me much.
“Then in April, I started to get a really sore foot. We got it scanned and it came back clear, so I just kept training for another month.
“Then the MRI results came back and showed two fractures on my left foot. It was the navicular bone and the metatarsal.
“I was out for six weeks in the boot and now I’m back strengthening it up again.
“I basically missed the full outdoor season. The schools season was just starting and I only got two competitions.
“That’s the way it goes. Unfortunately injuries are part of it. Hopefully I get my ankle back stronger than what it was and I’ll look to the Indoors again in January.”
Doherty has just completed her Junior Cert, and will now enjoy her holidays before starting Transition Year.
That should help her athletics career, and she has aspirations of representing her country.
“I would love to get on a national team. That was the aim this summer, but the injury put it back.
“I was looking forward to getting a green vest.
“We will just postpone that until next year hopefully.”







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