Lifford AC Nominated for Athletics Ireland Club of the Year
Nominations have just been released for the forthcoming Athletics Ireland National Awards and yet again, Donegal athletics will be well represented at the ceremony to be held in Dublin on the 20th November. These National Awards recognise the outstanding achievements of athletes, clubs, coaches, officials, and volunteers, and for their contribution to Irish athletics during the year.
For the second year running, Lifford Athletic Club has been nominated for the prestigious Development Club of the Year Award. This award recognises clubs for their contribution to the growth of athletics, the development of their facilities and for their achievements at all levels during the year. Last year, Lifford AC missed out on the award to St. Lawrence OToole AC from Carlow, but hopes are high in the border club that they will go one step further in 2013 and lift the award.
In recent years, the club has developed a multi-dimensional approach to its development which has seen many of its ambitious plans coming together. Such an approach has seen work done in attracting athletes of all ages into the club, increasing the number of coaches, developing coaching expertise, expanding and building its facilities infrastructure and equipment, and significant work done within local communities and schools.
From an athletics perspective, the club has been developing at grassroots level, attracting a large membership of locally based athletes of all ages. At juvenile level, the club has enjoyed success not experienced since the early days of the club with both representation and honours at County, Provincial and All Ireland level. Indeed, 2013 saw one of the biggest medal hauls at All Ireland level for many years at the club. At senior level, the club has seen a massive influx of athletes at both recreational and competitive levels in recent years. This year saw Lifford Senior and Masters athletes lift national titles on the road, indoors, track and field, and with the Cross Country season not yet over, further success is anticipated. Indeed, two of the club’s senior athletes, Ann Marie McGlynn and Natasha Adams have been selected for international Cross Country teams, with McGlynn still in the reckoning for a place on the European Cross Country team. A Fit4Life group which developed at the club a few short years ago has been an outstanding success and is rightly recognised as one of the strongest such groups in the County. With in excess of 100 members, this Fit4Life Group continues to grow from strength to strength and has now become a feeder group into competitive athletics for many athletes that have not trained or competed since they were in their youth.
On the coaching front, the club has developed a strong base of coaching expertise which has moulded much of the athlete successes in recent years. Coaches include former athletes, several of whom enjoyed national and international success during their own athletics careers, with some still competing and achieving at Masters level. For coaches new to the athletics scene, their contribution to the growth of the club has also been immeasurable bringing an energy and enthusiasm to the development of athletics in the area.
This year, the ten year development of an Olympic standard track was brought to fruition, with the club’s new Mondo track laid to full IAAF specifications. The new track has played no small part in the growth of athletics in the area, with training now taking place five nights per week. The Mondo surface is world renowned for its fast qualities and it is no surprise that some of the country’s elite athletes including Jason Smyth and David McCarthy have come to train there. In addition to the track, the club has a fully equipped gym that is open to the public five days per week as well as a Fitness Suite and outdoor running trails.
The club is an integral part of the community it serves, and supports athletics development in primary and post primary schools on both sides of the border. The club also runs a number of successful road races including its Spring 5K series, races in Lifford, St. Johnston and Raphoe, and this year, the club hosted the inaugural Riverine 10K, the first cross border road race of its kind. Coupled with this, the club has also supported community and voluntary groups with the organisation of races, raising much needed funds for valuable local causes.
While 2013 has been a year in which many of the clubs plans have come together, Lifford AC still has ambitious plans to grow further both in terms of membership and its facilities. A nomination for this years Club of the Year Awards is in itself a huge honour for the club. If successful at the Awards, it would mark yet another huge achievement in 2013 for this fast growing Donegal club. The Awards will be announced in Dublin on Wednesday 20th November.