Lisgoold’s Leah Parker a Munster Record-Breaker in Her First Year of Athletics

By Alan Sheehan

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Leah Parker, a student from Lisgoold, took home multiple medals at various high-profile athletic competitions throughout the past year, including at the All-Ireland T&F Championships, the County Championship and the Munster Champions where she broke a long-standing record.
At the Munster U14 to U19 Outdoor Track and Field Championships in June, Ms Parker, who at 12-years-old competed throughout this year in the U14 age group in all events, smashed a Munster record which had stood for almost a decade. Her gold-winning throw in the U14 Girls Hammer (2.5kg) reached a distance of 41.55 metres, beating the previous record, which had stood since 2009, by nine metres.
“She broke the Munster record by nine meters,” said John Paul Parker, Leah’s father and coach. “We had people coming up to us on the day and saying her new record will never be broken. It is a fierce achievement.”
Also at the Munster T and F Championships she won gold in the U14 Girls Discus (.75kg) with a distance of 26.98 metres, and finished fourth in both the U14 Women’s Javelin and U14 Women’s Shot Putt.
Leah, a member of Midleton Athletic Club, and her father worked together from last September onward to prepare and carry out her training programme for her first year in her four preferred events.
“I asked her and she said she didn’t want anybody training her,” said Mr Parker, “so we worked together to train her. We used local fields in Midleton. We learned from YouTube videos of professionals and world champions how to throw correctly, and then we worked out which type of throw would be best for her. We started training last September three times a week, rain or shine and all throughout winter. She is fierce dedicated and she had a near-perfect year.”
Back in early July, Leah took home silver in the Under-14 Women Discus (0.75kg) at the Irish Life Health Juvenile T&F Championships with a best distance of 26.30 metres. At the same event in Tullamore, Offaly, she also won bronze in the U14 Women Hammer (2.5kg) with a best distance of 39.38 metres, which was the top distance from any Munster athlete in the same category.
Ms Parker also won two gold and two silver medals across two days at the Cork Athletics County Juvenile Championships in May. Winning the Girls Under-14 Hammer with a distance of 36.12 and the Girls Under-14 Discus with a throw of 23.27, Ms Parker added two silvers to her haul when she finished second in both Girls Under-14 Javelin (just behind the current All-Ireland champion) and the Girls Under-14 Shot.
Leah, who entered first year in St Aloysius' College, Carrigtwohill, will turn 13 in November and will compete in the U15 age categories in her chosen events throughout next year, which will now hopefully include athletic competitions on behalf of her new school and international events.

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