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Third time’s a charm for Cormac Ryan

Cormac Ryan’s third attempt at the iconic GIO Oz Day 10K earlier this year was his most successful yet. The 14-year-old from Sydney set a personal best time to win the Juniors section of the race.

“I felt really, really happy and really relieved that I was able to finish and also… was able to get a quicker time from last year,” Cormac told Inform. “And I was very happy that, knowing that all that training was went to a good use.”

“It was really good seeing the reaction of people around me and my coaches… and it was just it was just a really, really good feeling that’d I’d won and finished.

“It was different to last year. There was a bit more prep time leading up to it. Obviously, there was less people to get around. So… that was one less thing that we had to be aware of. A few changes to the course. But the weather was great. And still a good number of people competing. And it was it was a fun day.”

Cormac credits changes to his training habits to helping him to his first win.

“Training habits and definitely just overall strength, which, obviously there’s not much there, but… it increases by a little bit every year and that little bit helps me to finish and helps me to do better every year, hopefully,” he said.

Cormac racing

Image: Karen Watson

Training with the best

Cormac’s entry to racing came via his mum. After the family moved to Sydney, she wanted him to get into sport. 

“She sent out a tweet and then Kurt Fearnley replied to it, and organised a time for me and mum to meet at Olympic Park to get in a chair, and Lou (Sauvage) was there as well. So, I hopped in her chair and Lou said why don’t you come out to the Saturday sessions?”

Saturday sessions turned in training three times a week, sessions on the track and road doing sprints and long distance and Cormac now trains with Sauvage on Saturday mornings. Louise Sauvage has won multiple gold and silver medals at the Paralympics and the World Para Athletics Championships. She’s also won the Oz Day Race 10 times.

“She’s really, really, really experienced, and that she was the top of track at the time when she was competing,” Cormac said of Sauvage. “It’s just really, really cool to know that I [am] learning from her [and could] possibly be at the level that she was.”

“She’s just a really, really good role model really strong and really inspiring.”

Cormac also trains with athletes like Madison de Rozario, a world champion and Paralympian who first competed at the Paralympics in 2008 as a 14-year-old.

“She’s one of the best that we have,” Cormac says of de Rozario.

Working with Sauvage and his other coaches is something the young racer doesn’t take for granted. 

“I don’t have the worst hand in people around me to learn from.”

“I just like learning from people who know what they’re doing and have tons of experience and are the best people to learn from in the sport. So, Lou’s a great example of that. And Glen is obviously really smart and really well connected with the sports science world and the track running aspect of it as well. So, yeah, that’s good. And just the mix of people that we have training with us of a week. It’s just good to socialise and have a bit of fun with

Cormac racing

Image: Karen Watson

Race plans out the window

At the starting line of the Oz Day 10k Race, Cormac was mostly thinking about just finishing the race.

“I’m thinking that I want to have a good start and not push myself too much too early on so I’m able to finish with some energy. And I’m also being mindful of the people around me and what they’re thinking of doing getting out in front or drafting. So, there’s a lot playing in your head, but obviously, this year with the COVID restrictions there wasn’t as many people so it was a little bit easier to figure out where people were gonna go. But it was just the main thought was, hopefully I’m gonna finish and I want to finish. That was the only thought.”

“[I] usually have a plan. And this year, I thought about it a lot [but]during the race, that plan kind of escaped from my head. And I kind of just did what I felt was right in the moment. At the time I didn’t think it was great but looking back on it wasn’t the stupidest decision.”

Despite getting a personal best time, Cormac wasn’t aware that he’d actually won the Juniors until a few minutes after the race.

“Because I was looking down I thought [another racer] caught up to me and snuck in in front of me. I had no idea. I was completely out of it,” he said. “When people told me, like, five minutes after the race, I was confused. I didn’t know how it worked and I didn’t know what was going on. I didn’t know the specific result.”

Cormac receiving trophy

Image: Karen Watson

Looking to Paris in 2024

While winning the Oz Day Race is something Cormac is incredibly proud of, he’s certainly not resting on his laurels.

“I’m still at that point where I’m trying to figure out what my strengths are… I’m still trying to figure out whether I want to pursue long distance or pursue short distance or just say where I’m at right now where I’m doing a bit of both and I’m on the road,” he said.

“Right now my plan is to get to Nationals and see where I can go from there. But looking on the further horizon, definitely 2024 in Paris. I am working to be there. So that’s definitely one of my main goals. And having Lou and Maddie there’s really, really inspiring and it’s a good thought keeping me going knowing that Maddie went to the Paralympics when she was 14. So, I really need to work hard and get to where she was so I can hopefully stick to that and be successful.”

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