Navigating Regrets and Rediscovering Passion in Master Athletics

March 06, 2024

Every athlete carries a collection of regrets, a symphony of 'what ifs' that play in their minds. Michael Cornyn, a seasoned athlete, is no exception. In this reflective journey through his athletic career, Cornyn shares the highs, lows, and the pivotal moments that shaped his experience in the world of athletics.

Cornyn reminisces about his brothers' achievements in the All-Ireland Community games at Mosney, particularly in the 100m. Despite the fervent desire to make it to that stage, Michael shared that he never did. The late 1970's presented a landscape of intense competition, meaning Cornyn stayed in Connacht, as there were numerous national and international athletes in his age group, making the journey to the All Ireland Schools elusive during those years.

The dream of securing a scholarship to the United States lingered in Cornyn's mind but never materialized. In 1980, formidable competitors like Paul Donovan and Conrad Conneely were the only ones to surpass him on the track, with Donovan heading to Arkansas and Conneely to Providence.

Cornyn reflects on his late teenage years, acknowledging that his best athletic performances came at the age of 18 and 19. The missed opportunities of his earlier years linger as a reminder of the untapped potential during his youth.

It wasn't until joining Donore that Cornyn had a coach, and it wasn't until Robert Denmead provided detailed programs for the World Master Championships in South Korea (2017) that he truly understood the value of coaching. This experience highlighted the pivotal role coaches play in an athlete's development.

Cornyn recounts the challenges posed by injuries during his senior years. An ankle sprain in 1986 and a back injury in 1987 disrupted his training plans. Despite these setbacks, he managed to bounce back, running impressive times for the 400m and 800m.

The unexpected return to athletics at the age of 47 marked a new chapter for Cornyn. Contrary to his retirement at 35, he found a renewed passion in Master athletics. His training intensity increased, culminating in exceptional performances at the World Masters and European Championships in 2017.

From early regrets and missed opportunities to a late resurgence in Masters athletics, Michael Cornyn's story inspires athletes of all ages to embrace coaching, stay resilient in the face of setbacks, and rediscover their love for the sport.