The people of Leitrim are renowned for supporting their own - think back to winning the Connacht title in 1994 when the county nigh on closed down with the celebrations that went on. As we face the onset of August we look to a different sporting field as we support our two Olympians Laura Reynolds and Colin Griffin.
August 11 is D-Day when both take to the roads around The Mall in their events - the 50km walk for Colin and the 20km walk for Laura. This is a day when all their dreams and ambitions collide as they set forth on the most important races of their lives.
It is the culmination of years upon years of training, overcoming disappointment and injury and still striding onwards and upwards in order to achieve their goals.
It is amazing to think that within such a small radius - Ballinamore to Eslin - that this small county of ours has produced such fine athletes in such a unique sport.
The road to London has been paved with ups and downs. For Colin the Beijing Olympics ended in disappointment four years ago when he was disqualified and what followed has been four tough years. In fact just when it seemed as though the dream of a second Games was slipping away from him he produced his best form to see him qualify for London.
For Laura, injury and illness almost cost her the chance to compete in London but, after missing out at the World Cup, her strength of character saw her travel unheralded to La Coruna in Spain in June to achieve the Qualifying time and a place in the Olympics.
Race walking for those that do not know is an endurance sport which combines strength, stability, mobility and flexibility which then have to be held together for the long endurance races.
For these two Leitrim people it has meant giving up much of the norm as they completely immerse themselves in their sport.
They rely heavily on grant aid and any financial help which can support them.
It is not easy. Colin has a degree which he has not used as sport is his main calling while Laura has just finished her teaching degree in DCU, without a job and is looking to forge her own career path while juggling the strenuous demands of a top class sporting career.
The Leitrim Observer is just one of many organisations which are calling on our county men and women to put their hands in their pockets and support our Olympians. We will be running messages of support in the run up to the games, with monies going to help Laura and Colin in the here and now and, hopefully, following their success in London.
In the meantime each and every one of us, even if financial help is not available, can support these two athletes. August 11 in London, no matter what the outcome, will be a day when we will cheer on our Olympian winners. Good luck guys.
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