Interview with Finn Okeefe
Aiming to improve a personal best (PB) is something more than just an aspiration in athletics – it is a goal for everyday life. This is something that Sports Academy superstar, Finn Okeefe possesses in every aspect of his athleticism and studies.
“you have to always keep improving yourself”
As an Armidale local, Finn got into Little Athletics at a young age and soon found running to be a passion of his, “it’s what I’ve been doing ever since.” Yet, as he got older, and his competitions and training became more intense, Finn has had to develop more than just running skills in order to help him juggle his other commitments off the track.
In his first year at UNE, Finn is studying a Bachelor of Clinical Exercise Physiology. This is a broad degree with the potential to work in a wide range of facilities from hospitals to professional athletic centres. Finn aspires to become an exercise physiologist with focus on – you guessed it, athletes.
His dream job would be to one day work for high-performance athletes in the Australian Athletic team as an exercise physiologist, “I like it because it’s relevant to my running, and I have always been interested in the science behind the sport.” However, there could be the possibility that before Finn works for elite athletes as their sports scientist – he could, in fact, be competing as one of the athletes in the Australian team.
Finn’s impressive list of accomplishments on the track made me wonder if the Olympics are an aspiration for him… “of course!” was his response as his results in recent regional and national events have put him as strong contender besides some of the countries strongest track athletes.
At the beginning of the year, Finn was selected to compete at the Oceania Championships in the regional Australian team. The championships were held in June, and Finn came 1st in his 800m event with a PB of 1:59.55, and 9th in the competition overall. He also got silver in the mixed 4 x 400 relay and 5th in the open men’s 4 x 400 relay – these results are impressive no doubt! As talk about the 2020 Olympics become more prominent, the Oceania Championships are an amazing feat for Finn to be qualified to race with some of the top athletes in track who are also aspiring Olympians.
Other competitions Finn has dominated this year was the Dubbo New Year’s Carnival where he placed 1st and 2nd in the NSW Country Championships – wow! Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to compete in the State Championships as he cramped up right before the competition. And, similarly, missed out on the first UNI Games for the year due to illness. Nevertheless, he has proved himself dedicated to his sport with his amazing accomplishments at Oceania.
As a member of the UNE Sports Academy, Finn enjoys the facilities at SportUNE that the Academy grants him access to, “I get access some amazing coaching in the gym with Matt Pine, my favourite exercise would have to be leg day as it’s pretty relevant to running.” He usually spends an hour max in his gym sessions and two hours in a track session.
Finn O’Keefe displays a quiet determination to get the very best out of himself. It has been great to see him develop confidence as an athlete, a student and in general life over past year, running PB’s and making the Regional Australia Team. With plenty of improvement still possible for Finn, it’s exciting to see what he will achieve in the future. Matt Pine, High-Performance Manager
Finn has also enjoyed the academic support from Lisa Rice in the academy, as it has given him the confidence to juggle his assessments and course work with his multiple training sessions and competitions.
Lisa spoke about what advice she gives Sports Academy students in managing their different commitments in an interview she recently had with us. One strategy Lisa teaches the Academy students in managing their busy schedule is showing them how to ‘time budget’.
In relation to Finn; his weeks are nothing short of jam-packed. Finn trains six times a week has a full load of study and classes to attend and is President of the Armidale Athletics Club. There is no doubt that Finn’s time budget is overflowing, but he always makes sure to mark in time to relax. Even if it is something like watching tv or playing his guitar – balance is key!
On the topic of Finn’s time budget, his top tips for balancing a busy lifestyle is to never ‘compromise performance – I am always training for something so I can’t just go out with friends when it’s close to a competition or assessments need to get done.
“It’s all about knowing what is coming up and when you have free time because free time is important – just not at the expense of your commitments”
His secret in maintaining his energy to take on his time budget is his diet. When balancing a busy lifestyle, it is important to also eat a balanced and healthy diet. Finn needs ultimate input in food and liquid for maximum output in energy and strength during his training session. After training, recovery involves stretching and rolling, but also something he calls a protein window, “you have to get proteins and carbs in within half an hour of training. Food’s rich in protein and carbs such as pasta and steak help in the recovery of your muscles and energy levels. If you’re trying to maintain your energy supply for your next training it is important to fuel your body fairly soon after a session.” – Pasta after the gym? Oh, I’m sold! 🏋🏼♂️= 🍝= 😁
There is no doubt that Finn is always willing to learn and improve his skills on and off the track. The next skill he wishes to add to his repertoire is to learn what kinds of exercises benefit particular athletes in their performance and use this knowledge in his own training and competitions.
We wish you all the best of luck in your studies and up-coming competition Finn, we will be watching this space! … we could even be watching you run in the Olympics one day!
To follow Finn on his journey through his degree and epic sporting sprints