In just over 30 days Glasgow will welcome 6500 athletes from 71 different countries, each seeking to snatch a gold, silver, or bronze medal in what some predict, will be one of the most memorable commonwealth games to date.
In 2010 Northern Ireland secured 10 medals at the Commonwealth Games, and this year, with 117 top class athletes in attendance at the games, they seek to replicate or increase this astounding achievement.
On Wednesday afternoon, I met up with 400m hurdler, and 4 x 100m relay team member, Jason Harvey who will be representing ‘Our wee country’ at the games, to find out a little more about the event, and his preparation for the fierce competition which awaits him.
Unfortunately I had a slight Bridget Jones disaster, as something of a technical glitch occurred and the recording vanished into the ether…Hence from here on in, your just going to have to take my word for it about the finer details of our brief discussion…
At 6 ft 3 inches, it’s unlikely that you’ll not be able to pick Jason Harvey out of a crowd. From his physique alone, it is pretty clear that Jason is a professional athlete in top form, who is dedicated to his job, which is quite clearly also his passion.
To kick off the interview I asked Jason how strenuous his training routine had become in recent weeks following his selection as a Commonwealth competitor. Jason explained the highly complex training programme which his coach has specifically created for him, and the strict dietary regime which fuels his efforts on the track. It was highly apparent to me that competing at a world class level is not for the faint hearted, but requires intricate mathematical calculations and sheer grit and determination.
As a very sociable 22 year old, Jason did say that at times he found it difficult resist the temptation of sharing a curry or pizza with his friends, but with his eyes firmly fixed on the prize of reaching a final in one of the events in which he is competing – the sacrifice is most definitely worth it.
Our chat progressed onto the topic of drug testing, a process which each athlete competing in the games is required to fulfil before they get anywhere near the Commonwealth stadium. As a frequent competitor on a world class stage, Jason is accustomed to completing such tests, and is a passionate advocate of ‘on the spot’ testing by competition officials in order to remove illegal substance abuse from athletics.
I was amazed to discover the intricacies of the process, and how much detailed information the athletes are required to record on the testing form. Basic items which I would consume everyday without a second thought, such as a Starbucks smoothie, or an aspirin to relieve a persistent headache – everything must be written on the form! In all honesty, I don’t think I’d be able to do this, as most of the time I can hardly remember what I have eaten for breakfast, let alone what I ate the day before! However such sacrifices and attention to detail have paid off for Jason, who has achieved the following PBs: 400m hurdles – 50.13 secs, 400m – 47.15 secs & 200m – 21.57 secs! I think it’s fair to say that when I heard these times, my sessions “pumpin’ ‘ron” in the gym faded somewhat into insignificance….
When my jaw hit the floor, Jason quickly stepped in to reassure me that not everybody has to perform at such a high level in order to enjoy exercise. In light of a recent survey by Eurostat which claimed that young females in the UK are the most obese in Europe, and a BBC report which stated that a parent had been arrested as a result of their child being grossly over weight, Jason highlighted the importance of everyone becoming more physically active. He strongly advocates that young people, in particular, should be getting involved in physical exercise, as starting the habit early will promote physical, mental and social wellbeing which will stand you in good stead throughout life.
It was a pleasure to speak with Jason, as he radiates enthusiasm and passion about his sport and is a genuine role model promoting a refreshingly healthy and positive light on Northern Ireland. I wish him and the rest of team NI a very successful Commonwealth Games, and I look forward to seeing them and their medals when they return to “Norn’ Iron” – and this time I promise I’ll hit the right button!
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