Cork camogie star Ashling Thompson is famous for her skill on the field and her no-nonsense approach off it. Here, she tells NIAMH CRAWFORD-WALKER how sport saved her life.
AT WHAT POINT DID CAMOGIE BECOME MORE THAN A HOBBY?
I’ve always loved a challenge. The skills involved in camogie are quite difficult and that really drew me to it. I’ve played every type of sport, but camogie always came first. It’s like a first love.
WHAT’S THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU’VE RECEIVED DURING YOUR SPORTING CAREER?
Our team motto is “Never give up, never let up”. Whether it’s sport or not, never give up on something you love. Just keep going.
WHAT’S YOUR GO-TO WORKOUT?
A core session – you can just grab an exercise mat and do it in the comfort of your own home.
Chocolate. I’m obsessed.
HOW HAS YOUR LOVE OF SPORT IMPACTED YOUR LIFE?
Being physically fit means being mentally fit as well. If I’m having a bad day and I’m going to training, I’ll come out of the session a different person. Sport has always been by my side, through thick and thin, and it’s really pulled me through tough times. I’d go as far as to say sport saved my life.
IN WHAT WAY?
It definitely helped to ground me. The discipline you need impacts everything. Not only does it help your sport, it helps you in day-to-day life. It keeps you from going off the rails.
YOU WERE INJURED IN A CAR ACCIDENT IN 2009 – HOW DID YOU COPE WITH THE ABSENCE OF SPORT WHILE RECOVERING?
I didn’t cope at all. I went down the wrong path and had too much spare time on my hands. It broke me down so much and depression set in. I was ready to give up on my sport completely. Then my turning point came when a new coach, Frank Flannery, took over the club in 2012. He got to know me as a person as well as a player and we related easily to each other. Reaching out to him genuinely helped.It’s amazing to think a complete stranger can walk into your life and change everything. But Frank did that for me. He’s not with the club anymore, but I know I could pick up the phone at 6am if I needed him and he’d be there for me.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE HEALTHY OPTIONS WHEN DINING OUT?
Stir-fry is a good option. You can add chicken or prawns for protein and, of course, veg. Pizza is actually a great carbohydrate – you just have to be really selective about your toppings.
ANY TIPS FOR MANAGING TO FIND TIME TO EXERCISE WHILE WORKING FULL TIME?
Once you get yourself into a good routine, it becomes second nature and you start to enjoy it. It can be something small that you do, like going out for a jog. It’s about getting up and just doing it. And then when you don’t, don’t beat yourself up about it. Be patient.
IS THERE ANYTHING NEW YOU’RE PLANNING TO INCORPORATE INTO YOUR WORKOUT THIS YEAR?
I want to start doing Pilates or yoga because they’re so good for flexibility, which is a huge part of my sport. I want 2017 to be the year I train as hard as I can and bring it to the next level. No matter what you do in life, once you give it 110 per cent, you can always say you gave it your best shot.
ADVICE FOR STAYING HAPPY AND HEALTHY?
Love yourself no matter what, and surround yourself with good people.
Ashling Thompson is a Red Bull Athlete. This article originally appeared in the March issue of IMAGE magazine, on shelves nationwide now.