Pierce Flynn, Park Hotel presents the September Waterford Sport Star Award to Joe Gough. Included are Rachel Kinsella, Sales & Marketing Manager, Park Hotel, Fintan Walsh, Waterford Athletics PRO and Kieran O’Connor, adjudicator. Photo: Sean Byrne.
There was a bit of history made at the Park Award Waterford Sports Star Awards this week when the sport of athletics became the first sport to reach 50 monthly awards of this prestigious awards scheme that has been in existence since 1991.
The man to bring athletics to that historic milestone was none other than West Waterford AC star, Joe Gough, who collected the monthly award for September.
Joe was winning his fifth Park Hotel Award after he claimed a wonderful gold medal double at the World Masters Athletics Championships in Malaga, Spain.
It began with the Over 65 800m title which he won in a new European record time of 2.16. 38 seconds. Four days later he was back in action in the 1500m final and again he was in top form beating the old Irish record time for the event by five seconds on his way to a famous winning double clocking a winning time of 4 minutes 49.63 seconds to claim his first World Championships gold double.
“I’m thrilled to be here today to collect my fifth Park Hotel Award. It’s such a prestigious award and it’s something that every sports person in Waterford would love to have and I’m humbled and privileged to now have five of these great awards.
Having won his favourite event, the 800m, in a new European record time, Joe then went on to qualify for the final and then win the 1500m, did getting the 800m take the pressure off or add to the pressure?
“It’s obviously always good to get off to a winning start and there’s no doubt that winning the 800m did give me confidence but it also put it up to me as I said to Matt Keane in an interview on WLR that I was going to go on and add the 1500m so then I just had to go and do it. I believed I could do it but I knew it wasn’t going to be easy as there were 12 athletes in the final and each one of them was a national champion. But I knew that I had the work done, thanks to my coach Dick Murphy and my trainer partner, Paschal Halley, and once I got to the start line I was convinced that nobody was going to beat me.”
So how did it feel standing on the podium receiving those gold medals?
“It’s amazing to stand there on the top of that podium with great athletes to your left and right and to listen to our own National Anthem being played, it thrills me every time and for all the effort you put in to get there, it’s worth it all when you’re standing on that podium.”
You only have to meet or listen to Joe to know that he’s enthusiastic as ever for the sport and the hard work that goes with it. What drives him on to keep going?
“This year I set myself a target. I had won the World title in the 800m three times but I had never done the 800m and 1500m double at the same championships and to me that was something that I wanted to achieve and I gave everything all year preparing to try and achieve that double and now I’m so happy to stand here and say that I did it. That’s what drives me on.”
Joe’s double caused great excitement in Waterford and this monthly award means that athletics becomes the first sport to win 50 monthly Park Hotel Awards. What does this mean to Joe?
“20 minutes after my 800m win my daughter sent me a recording of the golden voice of local athletics, Fintan Walsh, on WLR telling the people of Waterford of my achievement and even though I was far away, I felt so proud when I heard that and so happy to be the 50th athletics award winner at these great awards and thank Pierce, the judges and all involved for choosing me.”
Joe received his award from Pierce Flynn, Park Hotel proprietor and Kieran O’Connor represented the adjudicating panel. Fintan Walsh, PRO of the Waterford county athletics board was also in attendance.