Home History books Kelly McGrory: making her way through the history books

Kelly McGrory: making her way through the history books


Last Saturday night, Kelly McGrory’s tactic was simple: run.

The Morton Games came as a late opportunity, with the invitation only arriving four days in advance.

A little extra test was that the race was on a flat 400m as opposed to his favorite 400m hurdles.

McGrory ran and broke a 39-year-old record. The Tir Chonaill AC woman clocked 54.68 seconds to erase Donegal’s 400m record of 55.72 seconds. That had been the mark since 1983 when, at the same Morton Stadium in Santry, Finn Valley AC’s Christine Gallen set her career high.

“I had nothing to lose and it was good to cut my flat time,” McGrory told Donegal Live.

“I was absolutely buzzing. I wasn’t sure at the end of the race, but I was pretty sure it was a new record. I was thinking quickly and couldn’t remember any girls from Donegal running 54s. It felt so good to have him – I have a good lucky streak right now.

“It was not in my racing plan to face Morton at all and I only got the call on Tuesday of this week. They had a few dropouts before and when they saw me run 57 times over the hurdles I said to them, “Maybe she could run a good time in the flat and not be completely out of place”. ”

At the Senior National Championships the previous week, Laghey’s wife regained the Irish crown in the 400m hurdles. There she broke her own Donegal record of 57.22 seconds after setting a new mark of 57.84 seconds at Ulster Seniors.

St Abban’s AC’s Nessa Millet took silver in 58.08 while fellow McGrory Tir Chonaill AC Lucy McGlynn walked away with bronze, crossing the line in 1:00.00.

“It was a tough race,” McGlynn said. “Nessa is also a 57-year-old runner. Just for the PB the week before in Belfast, I wouldn’t have thought to offer him that. If I hadn’t run so well in Belfast, I probably would have walked in and sat behind her.

“To get this win, I was absolutely thrilled. I really didn’t think I would come out on top from the battle. I exceeded my own expectations over time – especially in the conditions.

She was back at Morton last week without the hurdles and it was a shock to the system.

“In my mind, it’s an easier race because I’m just focusing on the next obstacle.

“It’s a more enjoyable race. In fact, I find the 400m flats more difficult to run.

“I didn’t work a lot on the flat. Basically, I had no focus on it. I almost underestimated how different the two events are.

“I still do a lot of speed endurance work and a few obstacle sessions each week. The races are basically the same, but not in my head. When I ran the race, I knew more was needed. It was certainly not as simple as it seemed. Running flat is not as easy as I thought!

Still, his time goes to the top of the all-time Donegal charts over the distance.

McGrory knows there’s more to the tank.

“I’m definitely convinced to reduce that time again,” she says. “I knew I could have done some things better. It takes a few runs to find a rhythm and start running faster. At the moment, there is not much time left in the season and I will focus on the 400m hurdles.

Heading into this outdoor season, McGrory has been troubled by a back injury that she is still “managing”. The summer went better than expected.

Her trainer, Hayley Harrison, told her earlier this year that she could run 57 seconds in the 400m hurdles. McGrory brushed off the suggestion.

“Honestly, I didn’t believe her. I didn’t buy it. I really didn’t believe I could do it. I was shocked with the performance. I’m so happy now where I am – and there’s more to it.

McGrory heads to Belgium for a race on July 16 before competing at the AI ​​Games in Tullamore on July 24. His season will end in early August.

Head of Sports Development with the Irish Wheelchair Association – “I’m all about parasports,” she says – McGrory is based in Limerick.

A victim of injuries during his youth, McGrory represented Ireland at the 2019 European Games in Minsk. The mixed 4×400 relay team set a new Irish record at Dinamo Stadium in 3:24.14 with McGrory doing the third leg in 54.4 seconds. Andrew Mellon, Sinead Denny and Luke Lennon-Ford were the others running this afternoon of baking in Belarus.

In 2016, she won the senior and under-23 400m titles and earned a degree in sports science from DCU in 2016.

McGrory is lucky her boyfriend knows all about the commitment she has to give to her sport. Two weeks ago at Santry, Thomas Barr won his 10th Irish 400m hurdles title, with the Ferrybank man crossing the line in 50.37 seconds. Barr is now ready to face the world championships in Oregon.

“It’s cool that we’re both in the same sport,” McGrory says. “There is a good understanding between us on what is needed.

“It was so cool that day that we won the 400m hurdles the same day. He was just coming onto the track as I was exiting. We set the bar high for each other. We are in the same training group and do more or less the same training.

“When we’re in the season, everyone’s program is tailored depending on when the person is trying to peak. Thomas is off to Worlds now and he was dropping at different times, but it’s good we’re in the same group.

The schedule is demanding. Six days a week, she trains – “I wouldn’t do much more if I was a full-time athlete,” she says – but her mind and her world are focused on one thing: running.