A little corner of west Donegal will have more than a passing interest in the women’s marathon at the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Beijing.
That’s because of Sinéad Diver, who will be donning the vest of Australia on Sunday, August 30, in China.
Sinéad is a native of Belmullet, Co Mayo. Her father, retired civil servant Eddie is originally from Coshclady, Bunbeg and her mother, Bríd (née Dunleavy) hails from Belmullet.
“We used to visit Gweedore quite regularly,” Sinéad, who works in Information Technology, said from her home in Melbourne yesterday.
A graduate of Physical Education and Irish from the University of Limerick, Sinéad and her then boyfriend Colin, who is from Limerick, left for Australia as so many do - for a year - back in 2002.
Thirteen years later, the now husband and wife have two children, Eddie (5) and Dara (1) and the family have settled in Melbourne.
It was after the birth of her first born, Eddie, that Sinéad assessed her options to stay in shape and decided to take up running having spoken with her sister Gráinne, joining the ‘Crosbie Crew’.
“After my son Eddie was born - he’s five-and-a-half now - I joined a running group and met my coach Tim Crosbie and started taking part in fun runs and things like that,” Sinéad, now 38, added.
“I joined the local club, South Melbourne AC, and started racing and just really enjoyed it.
“The first race I had was the Victorian 5,000m Championship and I placed second, which was a good indicator and that gave me a good confidence boost. It really just went from there.”
That level of confidence, having only joined South Melbourne AC in 2011, brought a competitive level of performance.
Having played basketball and touch rugby, Sinéad previously only spent a little time on the treadmill. But competitive running was almost like unlocking a talent she didn’t know she had.
“When I was in college, one of the modules was athletics and how to teach it to kids,” she added. “But I didn’t really do it myself in training - which is a pity.”
In 2012, Sinéad finished second at the Australian Cross-County Championships one spluttery day in Adelaide, South Australia, when it was an achievement in itself to keep runners on your feet, whilst, tellingly, winning the Australian half-marathon championships in only her second ever half-marathon.
Two years later, after giving birth to her second son, Dara, she would repeat the feat in the dryer surrounds of Albany, Western Australian.
“From day one I definitely didn’t set out to be in any world championships or anything like that,” Sinéad said.
“But before Dara was born, I was thinking of stepping up for the marathon as I was more comfortable running over longer distances.
“It was around then I started to think that it would be great to race internationally.”
The fairytale continued. In her marathon debut, which took place locally in Melbourne last October, Sinéad came second in a time of 2:34:15.
She was ranked third fastest female marathon runner in Australia last year.
“I didn’t have a clue about competing internationally but once I got the 2:34 in Melbourne I knew I could,” Sinéad added ahead of her participation in the Victorian Cross-County Championships on Saturday.
“It’s been a dream come true. I have to pinch myself! It’s really exciting.”
Four years having taken up competitive running almost by chance, Sinéad will be taking part in the World Championships in China.
It’s been some journey so far for Sinéad Diver and there’s a few more miles to run yet.