Belfast Telegraph

Foster unfazed as she welcomes her greatest challenge

By Brian Hill

Ireland's top sprinter Amy Foster will shortly be facing one of the biggest challenges in her career in a few days' time when she takes to the 100 metres start line in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

However, what could be seen as a daunting task in front of thousands of spectators at Hampden Park plus a global television audience, will not faze the amiable 25-year-old from Newtownards.

This is because the Lisburn AC woman has experienced it all before at European and World Universities Games level.

This has culminated in numerous NI and Irish Indoor and Outdoor titles, not to mention capturing both the NI 200 metres record of 23.53 seconds plus the 100 metres record of 11.40 seconds.

She set the latter in Florida in May which qualified her not only for the Glasgow Games but also the European Championships in Zurich.

Foster is a bit unclear as to where her sprinting prowess comes from as there was no particular sporting tradition in the family from either her parents or one brother and two sisters.

She explained: "When I was around 13 at Glenlola Collegiate in Bangor, one of the teachers, Clare Brook, steered me towards North Down AC where I discovered I had a talent for sprinting.

"Things developed very quickly from there and in 2005 I was selected by Ireland for the European Youth Olympics in Italy for the 100 metres.

"I astonished everyone, including myself, when I won a silver medal. This was a really big occasion for me, but maybe because of my youth, I took it in my stride.

"I then experienced competition on the world stage the following year when I competed in the World Junior Championships in Beijing, where I raced over 200 metres.

"I have fond memories of both this trip plus the Youth Olympics as there were only six of us in the team and we were away for three weeks.

"It is interesting that the Bulgarian girl who won both sprints was recently banned for drug-taking, showing again there is no hiding place for cheats."

Foster, who was recently awarded a degree in Sports Science at the University of Ulster, was asked about her more recent achievements, including her NI records over 100 and 200 metres.

She commented: "2009 was not a great year for me but I came back the following year for my first Commonwealth Games in Delhi, which was another great experience.

"There was a good NI team and we had a week's acclimatisation. I was pleased to reach the semi-finals in both sprint events.

"This set me up for the World University Games the following year in China, which was my most successful championship to date. I reached the semis in the 100 metres and was delighted to make the final over 200 metres, where I finished seventh. My semi-final time of 23.53 seconds finally broke the NI record which had stood for over 25 years."

When asked about her most memorable achievement to date, Amy did not hesitate to point to her 11.40 seconds 100 metres time in Florida in May, which shattered the NI record of 11.49 seconds she had held jointly with Anna Boyle for years.

Foster recalls: "This was the race of my life and everything went right on the day. I couldn't believe I had run such a time as I had spent a long period trying to break the existing record. I was under enormous pressure as I needed to get the Games qualification time.

"Everything worked out perfectly and for once I was holding my own with girls I thought I would never defeat."

The sprinter showed a steely determination when asked about her training regime and future plans. There is little recreational time in her life bar a certain passion for watching Ulster playing rugby at Ravenhill.

"I train six days a week and sometimes twice a day. Over the years the intensity and volume have increased and I now have a greater muscle mass than previously," said Foster.

"I do sometimes think on a cold winter's day whether it is all worth it, but the negativity disappears when I look forward to the next competition.

"At 25 years of age I still have the motivation to carry on, particularly as the next Commonwealth Games are on the Gold Coast in Brisbane!"

Foster will clearly relish the challenges at Hampden Park in what will be another highlight in her illustrious career.

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