Chia Bia athlete Niall Tuohy on the ‘Road to Rio’
Chia Bia ambassador and National Indoor 800m Champion, Niall Tuohy is a strong contender for the upcoming 2016 Rio Olympic Games. However the ‘Road to Rio’ has been far from smooth for our Niall! As excitement mounts here at Chia Bia HQ, we are taking a look back over his journey with all the highs and lows that he has encountered along the way.
Though his races may seem like a simple four laps around the track to the unsuspecting onlooker, his journey has been plagued by injury and setbacks.
As a youngster, Gerry Deegan, coach at Tuohy’s home club of Ferrybank Athletics Club in Co. Waterford had high hopes for the athlete and always told him that he was born to be a runner. Niall gave up all other sports to concentrate on running and went on to win a host of underage titles across the country over a range of distances. By the time he graduated from Newtown Secondary School, he had international colleges such as Yale and Stanford knocking on his door with scholarship offers. He eventually chose Providence, but an excruciating foot injury was already beginning to hinder Tuohy’s promise.
Niall, along with The Waterford News and Star has agreed to chronicle his story from a sudden and devastating injury to his recovery and fight to regain his position as one of Ireland’s top athletes gearing up to compete in Rio for the 2016 Olympic Games.
In Niall’s Own Words
After a standard 3k race in 2008 I was barely able to walk with intense blinding foot pain, which I can only liken to migraine. I was later diagnosed with a rare form of tarsal tunnel syndrome, a condition which caused nerve ending in the ankle to become dislodged and begin to chafe against the bone in my foot. If I forgot to take my painkillers – which were the strongest available – I would wake at night and vomit with the intense, unrelenting pain it caused me.
Daily life became a struggle; I tried to enjoy my time at Providence but I couldn’t even jog – I went on one run in my entire time there at 2am one night when I couldn’t sleep. Despite all this I was desperate to continue my time at Providence but because I couldn’t properly participate in the programme the college failed to renew the scholarship.
Following this my parents were left to come with the $50,000 for the complicated and risky surgery required to relieve my foot problems. I underwent two successful surgeries in Baltimore, Maryland and spent the next few months in a wheelchair and or using a walking frame to get around. By this time thoughts of making it big in the sporting world were starting to take a back seat – I just wanted a normal life.
Back in Ireland I remained involved in my local club with unwavering support from Brid Golden and Gerry Deegan. Distance running mentor brother John Dooley kept me motivated, reminding me that talent is not something you lose.