How I Make It Work: Irish Athlete and Mum Deirdre Mongan
Deirdre Mongan is 37 years old. She is also an athlete and mother. This year she is hoping to qualify for the Paralympics. We caught up with her to find out how she juggles work, family and the sport she loves.
I got involved in athletics (shot put) through wheelchair rugby when I moved to Dublin nine or 10 years ago. I really loved it and it was my teammates that recommended it. So I did it and I was pretty okay at it so that was it really.
The thing I enjoy most is competing and actually competing against myself. As an athlete you are always trying to improve on your last throw and it’s great when you see improvement. It also suited my family circumstances as I felt it wasn’t feasible to do a team sport in terms of the training. If you can’t make a session, you’re letting a team down. Shot put is a good outlet and it suits when you have a busy family and work life. I love having something that’s just for me.
I’m finishing work in May until the Paralympics. At the minute I’m training five or six times a week. I’m having to fit that around work but my husband and in-laws are fantastic in terms of childcare. It means I have no problems getting to the gym. My training sessions are all about my upper body, as I am paralysed from the chest down, and they take about an hour and a half. I work three days a week which gives me time in the evenings to train.
You don’t know what to expect before you become a mum. Thankfully she was a really good baby in terms of eating and sleeping. She’s at an age now where it’s great to come home to her because she has her own personality. It’s amazing watching her change week by week. I didn’t know anyone who had had a baby before I did. I knew a couple of girls in wheelchairs who had babies but they didn’t return to the sport like I did. The hardest part is the organisation but I have a great husband and family who help with that
I love going to the sea with my daughter and husband. The one close to us has a promenade and a park but unfortunately the weather has been so bad that we haven’t been out as much as we had hoped. I also love just sitting in front of the telly at the weekend. There’s no shows that I follow because I don’t have the time but it’s just nice to sit and relax.
I’ve always said that I would want her to be involved in sport and find one that she likes. It doesn’t matter if she’s good or not, as long as she enjoys it. The benefits of sport are incredible. As well as a competitive element, it’s great for self-esteem and helps to make friends. These things can sometimes be forgotten when people talk about medals.
My main goal at the moment is to qualify for Rio. I’m just concentrating on getting there and if I do get there, I’ll focus on putting in a good performance. If I can do my best, that’s all I can control. Just thinking of the atmosphere is exciting. It’ll be a bigger stage than what I’ve experienced before.
Heaven is… me and my family being healthy and happy.
Video via YouTube/Paralympics Ireland