Limavady man Michael Walsh has qualified for a major fitness tournament in Belfast, just weeks after stepping away from Limavady United to concentrate on a new sport.
Michael is well-known in Limavady after giving years of service to the Roesiders, before leaving to play for Moyola and later returning for the 2014/15 season.
He now concentrates on a sport known as ‘Cross Fit’ in which athletes compete in all-round fitness tests - characterised by lots of
press-ups, pull-ups, weightlifting and other modern exercises.
After around one-year competing in Cross Fit, Michael is already making quite an impact. He has just made the top 80 for an event, known as the ‘Irish Throwdown’, in Belfast that attracts hundreds of competitors from across Europe.
He said: “I entered the Irish Throwdown, by chance.
“One of the coaches up in Derry told me that the thing was coming up and just to enter it, so I did. I never thought I would qualify, I just done it to see what would happen. The top 80 qualified and I ended up one of them.
“I’m not actually sure how many entered it but it was hundreds. I’m really happy. Kind of why I like it and why I like Cross Fit in particular is because I’m dedicated, I eat right and I always have.
“I don’t drink, everything I do is sort of tailored around my training - that is like my alcohol, my version of going out and getting drunk. The thing with Cross Fit and why I decided to concentrate so much on it is because what I put in I will get out - it is as simple as that.
“I’m 31 now. Obviously, when you look, even at the gym I am in there are young boys in there as well.
“I’m competing with them though although I am at the other end of the scale. Being 31, you still have another couple of years left to compete.
“Realistically, now, between the age of 31 and 35 I have a few years to see how well I can go at it. You never know. I’m dedicated enough to keep going. Who knows where it could up?”
He also explained why he decided to give up playing soccer for local side Limavady United: “At the start, I was in Moyola before Christmas before I joined Cross Fit Derry and it was training but if I had a football match I would take the Friday off. Then, when
the Open was out I was playing for Limavady. I actually done one of the Open workouts before I went away to play Bannbridge for Limavady - the manager obviously didn’t know.
“I managed to do it, just about, but it was sore on me. I was training and I was training for my football but that soon became training for my Cross Fit.”
The father-of-three described his routine, combining the busy demands of his training, a full-time job and family life.
“I go training every morning, class starts at 6.30am”, he said. “I go to work then and I do this barbell club as well now - it’s on a Tuesday and Thursday so I try and do that as much as possible. It is demanding enough but it is not too bad. I’m lucky because my wife, Tilly, is very good and that helps with the kids and stuff.
“I’m always busy but I like it. I get my enjoyment out of eating the right way and my training. The time some people spend in the bar, I am spending in the gym instead.”