In 2018, Phil Healy became Ireland's fastest ever woman. The Bandon Bullet was the first person in over 40 years to hold both the 100m and 200m Irish records at the same time. What is evident from the outside is Healy’s incredible work-ethic and mindset. It was only a matter of time before she broke her major championship final duck - which is exactly what she did last month.
After qualifying for her first ever major championship final at the European Indoors last month, Healy produced the fastest 400m of her career to finish just outside the medal spots at fourth. Her time of 51.73 was one fifth of a second away from third place and just over 200th of a second slower than the All-Time Irish record set by Karen Shinkins in 2002.
Ireland's Phil Healy advances to the 400m final after winning her semi-final. #torun2021 pic.twitter.com/87YqmOWDxX
— RTÉ Sport (@RTEsport) March 5, 2021
With memorable performances on the track likely to inspire eager girls and boys, Healy is passionate about encouraging more young women to do what they love regardless of whether taking part yields a position on the podium. Advocating for people to do what they love despite what other’s think, the Cork native condemns the notion of doing what is “normal” as opposed to a passion.
Currently, at the age of 14, twice the number of girls are dropping out of sports than boys and Healy points to peer pressure as one of the leading causes.
"Girls need to focus on what they enjoy. Do it for you and don't be influenced because your friends are off doing the "normal things." If it is something you want to do, do it for you”, Healy emphasises on the It’s Just Sport Podcast.
In her experience, the burden imposed from social media can be detrimental to body image and individuality, but the way society measures success is also a leading deterrent for girls to stay in sports.
Healy points out that “everything in Ireland is judged on if you won a medal, that’s how success is measured” and believes this mentality is resulting in girls drifting away from their sport if they do not believe they will become high ranking or the very best.
4th in a EUROPEAN FINAL🥳🥳So close to the medal...but I’m buzzing🙌🏻I said I would go out and die fighting and that’s what I did...and to come away with a PB of 51.94 after 3 rounds I couldn’t be happier!Thank you to everybody for the support!🤴🏻Coach @mcwexford delivers yet again pic.twitter.com/TckRV51nhm
— Phil Healy (@philhealy2) March 6, 2021
Seeking to counter that mainstream perspective she says “You don’t have to be the fastest…You don’t have to be the best at everything, if you have given it your best and you’re winning for yourself. I think people need to move away from that [mainstream] winning mentality for both the boys and the girls.”
Watch the full interview as Healy dives into a number of fascinating topics including body image, Healy’s career, coping with peer pressure and much more.