Carrigaline’s Sam Healy Jumps to National Title
Updated: Jun 29, 2022
Sam Healy of Carrigaline found himself jumping for joy at the weekend as he claimed gold in the Men’s Long Jump at the Irish Life Health National Senior Track and Field Championships 2022.
Writes Ciaran Dineen
The 25-year-old former Carrigaline Community School student and Leevale athlete jumped 7.54m to claim victory over Bandon’s Shane Howard at Dublin’s Morton Stadium. It had been a long road to claim his latest national title, with a 17-year-old Sam claiming his first and last Irish gold in 2014.
“I had a range of emotions in me after the competition. There was excitement, surrealism, and relief; it was just a feeling of knowing I finally did it because it has been a long time coming”, Sam told The Carrigdhoun Newspaper after claiming an emotional victory.
The Carrigaline man has spent the last four years in the United States, first beginning his studies at the University of Louisiana Monroe and then finding his way to the Lone Star State with the University of Texas San-Antonio. His time across the Atlantic has played a major part in Sam’s recent success, with the newly crowned national champion saying, “the setup I have over there is as professional as I could possibly want. The facilities are world-class, and I train with some very high-level athletes and my current coach is Kareem Streete Thompson. He was a phenomenal athlete in his day. Jumping 8.63m in the long jump and running 9.96 seconds in the 100m. Him and Carl Lewis were the only two athletes in history to have jumped over 8.50m in the long jump and run under 10 seconds in the 100m. So, having a coach with his experience and wisdom has helped me develop into the athlete I am today.”
While the 39-degree heat in San Antonio is all but too predictable at this time of year, the same can’t be said for the weather closer to home. The Irish summer was in full flow for all to see over the weekend, in Dublin the conditions while challenging, were not insurmountable according to Healy. “We were all expecting the worst with the weather, but it ended up not being as bad as we thought. The competition started off with a pretty bad shower, so we had trouble keeping warm. But after that, it stayed reasonably warm. The wind was a big hindrance as it was swirling and strong. You would start your run with it in your back and halfway down the runway, it would slap you in the face. So, when you’re sprinting down the runway and trying to hit a 20cm board without breaking your stride, things like this can act as big barriers to the competition and trying to jump far.”
Even though Sam was the only person who could climb onto the top of the podium last Saturday, the help and support he receives from his inner circle is award-winning in its own right. “I have a big team of people around me that I rely on and wouldn’t be where I am today without them”, stresses the 25-year-old.
“My parents Paula and Ger Healy, their continued support and belief in me is incredible and they know above everyone else what I have gone through to get to where I am today, and I owe them everything. My family and friends, both in Ireland and the states. My girlfriend Orla Skillington. My Coach Kareem Streete Thompson. My teammates at UTSA. My trainers and physios. It is always a team effort and I in no way, got to where I am today without any of these people. I always go out to make them proud, and I hope I do that every time I step on that runway.”
It has been a long season for the UTSA athlete after sustaining a few injuries in his indoor season earlier this year, while he also picked two hamstring strains at the beginning of the outdoor season. He will be competing at the Cork City Sports events on July 5th, and he has indicated that he may take the rest of the summer off before he heads into winter training.
As well as suffering from some frustrating injuries, Sam has faced some additional barriers off the track over the course of the last couple of years, as the impact of Covid-19 wreaked havoc on his ability to compete. Back in early 2020, Sam notes that he was just about to start his outdoor season when it was suddenly cancelled due to the pandemic. Soon after he found himself home thanks to some quick-thinking from his family. “I was just about to start my outdoor season in 2020 right when Covid hit and the NCAA announced the season was cancelled. After hearing that, my parents had me on the first plane home before the borders closed. It was difficult and uncertain times for everyone. I ended up finishing and graduating my bachelor’s in Psychology online from ULM that year at home. Everything got thrown upside down that year. With tracks and gyms closed across the country, I did the training I could, sprinting up hills and on grass to maintain slightly what I had built up”.
Upon his arrival back in the States, Sam made the tough decision to move State after his coach at the University of Louisiana Monroe took up a new position in Florida. Sensing the need for change, the former CCS student found his way to San Antonio, where he has not looked back since. “My first indoor season there started rocky as I was getting used to the training and the place but as I got comfortable, and Coach Streete got to know me as an athlete, more things started to click. And my first outdoor competition I jumped a windy personal best. I ended up having the best season of my life thus far that year and the successes have continued till this day where I finally came back to Ireland and gained the title of national champion”.
Here's hoping that Sam continues his fine form on the track and remains injury free off it for the remainder of the season. Still just in his mid-twenties, there is hopefully many more days of success and joy ahead for both him and his family. Best of luck Sam!