Laois will have two new international athletes later this year after Dermot O’Neill and Mag Magee were chosen from the Portlaoise Kettlebell club to represent Ireland in Latvia in September.
Both qualified after their performances in the Irish championships last month in Kilkenny, as the sport continues its steady incline in the county. The club was founded by O’Neill, who took up kettlebells five years ago, and they currently have over 30 members who are training each week in Portlaoise GAA centre.
Speaking about how the club was set up, Dermot revealed that it all started after he had read an article on the benefits of kettlebells. “I have a running background, but I have always been into other sports and I was always trying different stuff. I read an article on kettlebells and I was drawn to it, so I bought my first set, and I have been bitten by the bug ever since.”
The sport mostly involves the lifting of weights through a variety of movements, but there a significant health benefits to the sport, as well as a very low injury rate. The goal, as O’Neill reveals, isn’t to bulk up, but develop muscles in other ways. “You need to be lean and strong, bigger muscles need a lot of energy so you burn out quick, with kettlebells you need endurance, so your muscles have to be long and lean.”
For the recent All-Ireland championships, O’Neill was lifting a 24kg weight in each hand, and achieved 54 reps in a ten minute spell, with each rep seeing the weights start close to his ankles and finish over his head. He will travel to Latvia knowing he will need to improve on that is he is to compete in an area from which the sport of kettlebells originated.
To help fund the trip there will be a table quiz held on June 29 in the Portlaoise GAA centre at 9pm. Phone Dermot O’Neill on 085-1076217 for further details.