SIN speaks to Olympian Fiona Murtagh.
It has been a hectic 18 months for Fiona Murtagh, who at the start of last year was working for Campus Living at NUI Galway, and went on to win an Olympic bronze medal in the coxless women’s four in Tokyo. Top of Form
SIN sat down with Fiona and asked her what factors impacted her journey towards becoming an Olympian, with one resounding factor arising; the support she received as an athlete. Support is something that is incredibly important to Murtagh and was one of the reasons why she was able to make the jump to professional rowing at the start of 2020 and go on to win an Olympic bronze. She admitted to SIN that “So many people [were] in support of me going before I had the faith in myself.”
It was in this environment that she began her rowing career, telling SIN that she started rowing because of her twin brother. She also says that she was extremely lucky because her friends were also rowers by chance, and that she “never looked back.”
Murtagh relayed to SIN that NUI Galway have been a huge support to her so far, stating “I was fortunate that the people around me have been the reason why I kept rowing” and as a student in the MBA in NUI Galway she is now part of the college’s elite athlete program.
Talking about her homecoming in Moycullen after her success in Tokyo she says that “it was a personal highlight, something I’ll never forget.” Ireland’s support to their athletes was something that a lot of the Olympic athletes talked about according to Fiona, and from talking to her coach, Italian Antonio Mauro Giovanni, “The Irish sense of community is something he’s never seen.”
When talking about her goals for silverware in the Paris Olympics she says “That is my goal, I want to win Olympic gold.” She told SIN that resting on her laurels for the next Olympics is not an option, and that nothing is taken for granted in the selection of rowers to represent Ireland. However, this is a challenge she is relishing stating that “the element of the unknown is quite exciting.”
The number of rowers that have gone to the Olympics has grown exponentially over the last decade with the expertise of the coaches becoming a strong factor. She says, “It’s their expertise that’s making things very successful at the minute.”
The jump that rowing has taken over the last ten years is exceptional, but Murtagh hasn’t forgotten who laid the groundwork that rowing Ireland has built. She mentions the likes of Sanita Puspure who was one of the first successful rowers in Ireland. “When I was growing up it was just Sanita […] she is my complete idol”
When asked what advice she would give to a young rowers Fiona concludes by saying “The people around you are very important. Have a support system around you, don’t try and do it on your own because it’s not going to happen. You need support.”