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James McIlroy hangs up running shoes for Larne

By Ian Cahoon

Published 14/08/2008

At the turn of the year a County Antrim Shield tie with Dundela was not exactly the event James McIlroy thought he would be preparing for.

The 31-year-old Larne athlete has been Northern Ireland's top class middle-distance runner for the last decade and had hoped these Beijing Olympics would be his swansong before retirement.

Financial worries hastened McIlroy's exit from running, which he announced in March, deciding against preparing for this year's Games in China.

McIlroy has decided to return home from his London base and it wasn't long after that Larne manager Graham McConnell came calling about becoming their fitness coach.

"Graham gave me a call when the lads were back to training a couple of weeks, so we sat down and went about putting a few structures in place,” McIlroy revealed.

"We have introduced a number of new things to the players and have pushed them quite hard and to be fair to them they have responded very well.

"While in London I worked with London Harlequins and spent time on speed coaching with their backs and worked with quite a lot of international rugby players.

"Athletics certainly employ techniques which were beneficial to rugby and hopefully it will prove the same to football."

Despite the success he has enjoyed since bursting on to the scene in 1998, McIlroy revealed he didn’t even have any plans to tune into this year's Games.

"I won't be watching these games on TV.

"I enjoyed my time in athletics but there are so many other things that people don't see that you have to go through.," he added.

"You have to put yourself through a lot in the lead up to big events like that, then the medicals afterwards and dealing the press."

Belfast Telegraph

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