Two well-known local businesses, McGrady Financial Services and M.B. McGrady & Co Chartered Accountants from Downpatrick teamed up to host an inspirational breakfast seminar where local athlete and Olympian Kerry O’Flaherty was the keynote speaker.
At the breakfast event in the St Patrick Centre in Downpatrick, M.B. McGrady & Co Chartered Accountants and McGrady Financial Services announced their continued support for Kerry’s sporting goals, following the businesses’ sponsorship in 2016 which helped Kerry to fulfil her dream of taking part in the Rio Olympics and representing Ireland on a world stage.
The second phase of sponsorship will now enable Kerry to fund the start of the new Olympic events moving towards Tokyo 2020. Kerry’s goals along the way include the Commonwealth Games and European Championships in 2018.
With standing room only, the breakfast seminar was attended by staff of the two businesses, clients and local business associates, with Kerry delivering an inspiring talk on her journey so far, including her ‘Road To Rio’ and the essential role that sponsorship plays in the progression and development of athletes.
Speaking at her breakfast presentation, Kerry said: “As a former teacher, I really enjoy going into schools and creating enthusiasm about sport. It is great to see the younger generation become motivated. When I was 13 years old I took part in a 5k run and came in third, beaten by two boys. Newcastle AC scooped me up and before long I was running in my first Irish schools championship within a year. Then I competed in the Bellshill Mile and was the best lady competitor and that for me was a big step forward.
“I tried running in the 3-5000 metres while at university but the competition there was fierce. I then tried the steeplechase and found my niche.
“I really need to constantly work on my fitness. I have a strict regime of diet, training, physio etc which keeps me at the top of my sport. I occasionally use water therapy which helps to improve injuries and reduces stress in my legs. I worked towards the 2014 Olympics, that was my dream. It it quite tough mentally, for example you have to be available always for doping tests. I proceeded through the Beejing world championships and onto the the winter European championships. It can be a very lonely road to success in athletics but it was good to see another two Irish ladies also qualify into the European final.”
Kerry added: “There is a lot of travelling involved in attending these qualifying events and I had to get through this in order to qualify for Rio. I’m 36 now and still have another four good years ahead of me at competitive level.
“It was amazing that 3.6billion people watched the Olympic games on TV, half the world’s population. I am just honoured to be one of those 11, 237 athletes from across the 207 countries.
“I know I am near the top up against a lot of ladies who are very good and are extreme runners. But I am picking myself up now and I’m still improving, and I’m still very much enjoying it.
“The support of McGrady Financial Services and M.B. McGrady & Co. Chartered Accountants has been crucial to my progress, as maintaining a constant top-level performance is a seven day a week commitment, leaving no time for the security of normal employment.
“Both companies supported my Olympic dream and made my journey to Rio possible, and so for the businesses to continue supporting my efforts and have faith in me achieving my new goals, is incredibly heartening and appreciated.
“This sponsorship will help me to continue to train full-time with the longer-term goal being to make a 2nd Olympics in Tokyo 2020 – a full-time focus for preparation is vital to make the highest level in sport.”
As part of the sponsorship, Kerry is visiting local schools, delivering a series of ‘inspire workshops’ to pupils, and the athlete has already visited St. Malachy’s Primary in Castlewellan, Our Lady and St. Patrick’s Primary in Downpatrick and St. Ita’s Primary in South Belfast.
From Newcastle in Co. Down, Kerry is one of Ireland’s best track and field athletes and only one of a few locals to have made it to an Olympic Games.
Managing Director of McGrady Financial Services, Philip McCrickard, said: “We’re immensely proud to continue our funding for Kerry. The training and dedication that she puts in to be able to compete on the world stage is inspirational and we’re thrilled that our sponsorship will both help fund Kerry’s high-altitude winter training in Fort-Romeu, France, and at the same time benefit local primary schools with the ‘Inspire Series’ of workshops.”
Malachy McGrady, Partner with M.B McGrady & Co. Chartered Accountants said: “Since we committed to sponsoring Kerry on her journey to the Olympics, it has been admirable watching her dedication and drive to succeed. As local business owners, we’re privileged to be supporting a local Olympian; the energy and time that Kerry has put into her training and her eagerness to give back to the local community is commendable and we wish her the very best on her continuing journey to compete and represent this part of the world on the global stage”.
M.B McGrady & Co. Chartered Accountants have offices in Downpatrick, Belfast and Newtownards and McGrady Financial Services are situated on St. Patrick’s Avenue in Downpatrick.
For further information on Kerry O’Flaherty, please visit: