David Gillick comeback on the right track
THERE is rarely an event in local athletics that draws unanimous praise but was the case with the Belfast International Meeting at the Mary Peters Track last weekend. Even a persistent drizzle and cool temperatures did not spoil an excellent afternoon’s sport.
Hats off then to meeting director Eamonn Christie for putting together a memorable fixture on what was a shoestring budget for the type of event. Credit is also due to the hardworking team from Athletics NI who looked after the fields in the sprint and field events, the slick team of officials who saw that the meeting ran smoothly.
Last, but certainly not least, special mention must go to Beechmount Harriers who part-organised the meeting and provided welcome sustenance during a long afternoon. It could be said the appearance of Irish 400m record holder David Gillick drew many of the crowd to the meeting.
The Dubliner missed out on the 2012 Olympics through injury. He continued to battle on but finally threw in the towel the following year without managing to get back on track.
Gillick turned to cooking and won the Irish Celebrity MasterChef in 2013. He has subsequently appeared on many radio and television programmes to the point that he is now a household name particularly south of the border.
Last year he launched his own cookery book David Gillick’s Kitchen that sold very well. Although heavily occupied with his new career, there was still a void in his life and there are suggestions that he may have suffered from depression.
“When I got injured back in 2012, that trust in my body just wasn’t there,” said Gillick.
“I tried to come back and had subsequent problems. It takes its toll on you mentally and every time you’re running you listen to your body.”
Insiders had heard that he had run a private 200m in Athlone during the indoor season when he recorded a respectable 22.9 seconds.
Nevertheless most followers of the sport were surprised to hear that he had travelled to Italy a fortnight ago to run a 400m at a low-key meeting. His time 48.05 was good club standard but not spectacular.
And so on to Belfast and Gillick may not have got his victory, well beaten by the towering Birchfield Harrier Theo Campbell, but he went away a winner after competing well and spending an inordinate amount of time after the race having his photograph taken with all and sundry.
“Last week I got out and I was very conservative, very conservative, over the first 200. I came home strong. Today I just wanted to commit a little bit more, to be in the race at 250 which I felt I was,” he said.
“My curve, my top bend, wasn’t that great but then I found myself strong, staying tall, on the homestraight, I found myself finishing strong. It’s great to be here and I’m really happy.”
It was easy to see that the former Ballinteer Gaelic footballer was pleased to be back and at 32 years of age still has much to offer.
He admits that there was a void in his life after his, what now seems premature, retirement in 2013. But what will make him happy this time?
“I came up here 14 years ago, like many people today, trying to get a qualifier for the World Juniors back then. And I think I’ve come full circle.
“It’s been tough, like four years since I retired due to injury and all that. Probably I just missed it and there’s a lot of talk about relays and Rio. It’s not my agenda.
“This is solely for me personally, just to come out and enjoy it. It’s just coming out again and having races, staying healthy. I just don’t want to be injured again. You know I don’t.
“ I want to come out and really listen to my body, take one race at a time. One training session at a time and just stay on track.”
He says this with enthusiasm. David Gillick is back on track and on the way to redemption.