2 April 2015 No Comments by The Northern Standard

Clones AC European medal winner celebrated at homecoming

By Cianna McNally

Rapturous applause and cheers greeted Clones Athletics Club member Denise Toner last Friday evening at a homecoming celebration organised in honour of her winning gold in the Women’s 35 Category 800m Final at the European Masters Indoor Championships in Torun, Poland the evening before.

Denise, who hails from Knocks which is located just outside Lisnaskea, Co Fermanagh, won the race in an impressive time of 2:15:73. Six other athletes hailing from Belgium, Italy, Spain, Latvia, Great Britain and Poland took part.
Denise’s main competitors were Great Britain’s Helen Reynolds and Latvia’s Anna Tittova as these athletes had taken gold and bronze respectively in the 400m earlier in the week. The Clones AC athlete’s time was also an Irish age group record for 800m.

A large crowd of people were in attendance at The Peace Link sports facility in Clones last Friday evening to congratulate Denise and celebrate her win. Presentations were made to her on behalf of Clones Athletics Club and Ballybay-Clones Municipal District.

Chairperson of Clones AC Finbar Daly paid tribute to Denise and described her as a great inspiration to the club members. He said that everybody in Clones AC was very proud of Denise’s achievement and very impressed with her racetime.

On behalf of Ballybay-Clones Municipal District, chairperson of the Municipal District Ciara McPhillips was warm in her praise of Denise’s success. Councillor McPhillips also congratulated Clones AC and expressed the hope that Denise and the club would see many more gold medals in the future.

Denise thanked the speakers for their kind words and everybody who had wished her well. Reserving a special word of thanks for Clones AC coach Paul O’Neill who travelled to Poland with her, Denise described him as the backbone of a lot that went on in the club and said that without his support she would not have made it to Poland.

Denise also expressed her gratitude to the members of Clones AC and commented that they were lucky to be part of such a great club.

Denise, who is married with three young sons, works as a PE teacher in St Mary’s Secondary School in Irvinestown, Co Fermanagh. She joined Clones AC in 2011 and since then has blazed a trail through the local road race scene and beyond.

In 2013 she won the Ulster and Northern Ireland Intermediate Cross Country Championships in Lurgan, Co Armagh.

Following an injury she sustained at the Ulster Senior Cross Country Championships in January 2014, Denise turned to track. She was invited to compete for Northern Ireland in the Inter Area Indoor Challenge in London in late February 2014. She competed in the 1500 and 3000 metres and subsequently broke Irish age group records in both races.

Denise also won the National Masters 400m and 800m in Tullamore, Co Offaly despite picking up a calf injury a week before the event. While this injury curtailed her winter training, Denise began a strength and conditioning programme to keep her fitness levels up.

With the decision made to give the European Indoor Championships a go, Denise followed an intensive training programme that involved running four days a week, one day of strength and conditioning and one day of spinning.

She did most of her training with Clones AC in The Peace Link and previous to this had trained with the club at Largy College, Clones. Denise’s strength and conditioning coach was Cathal Beacom from Push Fitness in Enniskillen.

There is no stopping dedicated Denise who plans to take a couple of weeks off before building towards the outdoor track and field season.

Clones Athletics Club extended congratulations to Monaghan Phoenix Club member Anthony Martin who took home a silver medal in the Men’s 55 400m from the European Masters Indoor Championships. For more coverage of Denise’s win, see pages 14 and 34.

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