Golfer Tom McKibbin: I'm a bit young to think about my own mortality

Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week, Newtownabbey teen golf prodigy, Tom McKibbin

Tom McKibbin (14) – golfer (he's world junior champion) and ambassador for the Northern Ireland Children's Hospice Picture: Mal McCann
Tom McKibbin (14) – golfer (he's world junior champion) and ambassador for the Northern Ireland Children's Hospice Picture: Mal McCann

1. Up and at it – what is your morning routine?

During the week I usually get up about 7am. I get ready for school and have breakfast. I usually eat breakfast with both my mum and dad, but almost always with my mum. I do check my phone when I get up. I check all my social media stuff. I have a lot of friends in the US so I like to see what they have posted overnight. At the weekend it varies – I could get up between 7 or 8 o’clock because I practise and play a lot of golf at the weekends and it depends on my tee times. I don’t usually lie in at all.

2. What might you eat in a typical working day for...

Breakfast? It could be scrambled eggs and bacon, or porridge and toast or cereal and toast. One thing I hate is eating the same thing every morning, so it's always something different. At the weekends, it is always something nice like French toast or home-made pancakes.

Lunch? I usually a sandwich for lunch; it depends on how busy the canteen is at school and how long the queues are for the cooked food. It also depends what they are serving that day. They do a great chicken curry in school.

Evening meal? I eat a lot of pasta, because I love pasta. I love lasagne, chicken and steak. My uncle has his own butcher's shop, so I do eat a lot of meat. It’s good for me to eat protein and carbs, so my mum and dad ensure that I do.

3. Is nutrition important to you?

Yes, it definitely is really important now. If I want to be a good athlete I have to look at what I eat and what I drink. I’ve been learning this for a while now. I depend a lot on my mum of course – she will always ask what I would like to eat, but she knows what I need to eat, so it’s generally up to her and my dad, but they know what I like. My mum is a great cook. I drink a lot of water and I’m trying to drink more water when I’m out on the golf course.

4. Best meal ever?

Everyone who knows me knows my favourite meal ever is firecracker shrimp. Graeme McDowell has a restauarant in Orlando called Nona Blue and this is on the menu at it. I get it every time I go there.

5. Do you have a guilty pleasure?

Teryaki chicken – I love it. I would probably eat it every day if I could. French toast is a close second.

6. Have you ever been on a diet? If so, how did it go?

No, never been on a diet. When you see me, you realise why. I’m so skinny.

7. Do you take health supplements?

Yes, I take a multivitamin every day and I’ve just started taking Paradox Omega 3 fish oil supplements. My mum tries to make sure I get all the things I need in my food, but I’ve been told this isn’t always possible. So I take these to make sure I get everything I need.

8. How do you relax?

I play golf, of course, and I watch golf too. I suppose I like to read through all my social-media stuff as well. I like to play a bit of football with my friend.

9. Teetotal or tipple?

Ha,ha – I’m 14, so teetotal. But My 'tipple' would be Coke.

10. Stairs of lift?

Definitely, the stairs. I don’t like waiting for the lift.

11. Do you have a daily exercise regime?

I have two days a week that I work with my strength and conditioning coach, Jeff. We have a programme that I follow, depending on what part of the golf season I’m in. During the golf season, it's really maintenance, but off-season I’ve been working really hard to get stronger and faster so I can drive the ball further. I also have a routine that I use in between sessions with Jeff and it's important for me to have a good warm-up routine before I play golf. I do stretches every morning and night too.

12. Best tip for everyday fitness?

I suppose it would be 'move when you can'. Take the stairs, or walk the dog.

13. On a scale of one to 10, how fit do you think you are and how fit would you like to be?

I would consider myself a seven or eight. I'd like to be a 10.

14. Have you tried, or would you try, alternative therapy?

I have no idea what that is!

15. Were school sports happy times, or do you have a memory you would rather forget?

I don't have to think back too far because I’m only in form 3. I love most sports. I played rugby and football and ran cross-country and I’m a really good swimmer. I also wanted to play ice hockey when I was younger so I was good at that too. Then I discovered golf and there’s nothing else I enjoy as much as golf.

16. Did you ever have a health epiphany which made you change your lifestyle?

Not really. I’ve just been taught and realise that playing elite golf isn’t just about being able to swing the club well. One of the best pieces of advice I was given was about what I needed to do with my fitness routine to be the best golfer I can be – and the advice was right.

17. Best health/lifestyle advice you were ever given and would pass on to others?

A lot of the advice I am given relates to golf, but I was told once 'eat the right things and do the right things and your body will be good to you' So, that's what I would probably pass on to everyone.

18. Who inspires you or who would you try to emulate in terms of fitness/attitude to life?

It has to be Rory McIlroy, of course. I watch what he does in the gym. He’s one of the biggest hitters in golf, but, for me, it's about the work he puts into his fitness and not the actual exercises he does. I’m not in the same place yet, to do a lot of the same routines as he does, but I know if you put in the work, you get good results.

19. What time do you normally get to bed and do you get enough sleep?

During the week, when I have school, I would normally go to bed around 9.30pm. There are a couple of guys who make golf vlogs and they are really interesting, so I watch them before I eventually go to sleep. I usually get at least eight-nine hours a night.

20. Would you say you have a healthy attitude towards your own mortality?

I'm definitely too young to think about that!