It has been a breakthrough indoor season for Jack Raftery.
The talented young sprinter from Castleknock has seen significant improvements and now goes into this weekend’s 123.ie National Senior Indoor Championships as the favourite to take home gold.
This time last year he watched on after suffering a significant hamstring injury while racing for DCU at the University Indoor Championships, one year on and he is in the form of his life.
“It’s the first time I’ve been the favourite for any major championships,” he tells Irish Runner.
“I kind of have to put it to the back of my mind regardless of who is in the field and just run my own race on Saturday and Sunday.”
Two impressive runs over 400m this season have propelled the Donore Harriers man to tenth on the Irish Indoor All-Time list. He also broke the Irish indoor 300m record in Athlone at the end of last year but despite that he is aware that there is room for improvement.
“In the two races I’ve ran this year, I’ve gone through (200m) a bit too slow,” he admits.
“That marker I put down in December over 300m, in my head that’s what I want the first lap to look like.
“You do have to take the reins off a little, which is very hard as a 400m runner, going very close to all out on the first lap and then you have to come home again but I’m ready to have a go at it this weekend.”
Jack Raftery praises Dublin Sprint
It is clear that the winter training he has been doing under Jeremy Lyon’s with the Dublin Sprint group has come to fruition. The 21-year-old is full of praise for his setup.
“There’s a huge buy in.
“We train five days a week together.
“If there’s a 10 o’clock start on a dreary Sunday morning in the Phoenix Park for hills, we’ll still have everyone out there doing the session together,” he explains.
“I wouldn’t be where I am without the group.”
Raftery is studying Mechanical Engineering in DCU and is currently facing a gruelling three weeks of exams. Six months placement as a design engineer follow while he also sets his eyes on some massive goals in the sport for the summer.
“The big one this year will probably be the European U23s.
“I’m ranked fifth or sixth going back into it but I’ve matured a lot from where I was even last summer, I know I can do the rounds now at a major championships.
“Two years ago I went out in the heats of the European U23s and 50m in I tore my hamstring, so I do want that comeback in a sense.”
Having been part of the Mixed 4x400m relay team at the World Championships in Oregon last summer, Budapest in August is also a target with an individual spot not outside the realms of possibility.
The overarching goal however is the Paris Olympics which are now only eighteen months away.
“I’ll split my final year next year for Paris and I’ll probably move on to campus here in DCU.
“If I’m going to go all-in at this, I’m going to go all-in.”
While qualifying for the upcoming European Indoor Championships in Istanbul will be “touch and go” the biggest priority on Raftery’s mind now is winning his first national senior title at the weekend.
“It would be huge,” he says when asked what it would mean.
“I think I’ve proven I’m in good shape.
“I’ve tapered down well this week and the technical work is starting to come together.
“I just need to put together that race now.
“I think I’ve that little bit more in me and I want to unleash it in that first lap on Sunday.”
Jack Raftery of Donore Harriers, Dublin, was speaking at the media day in advance of this weekend’s 123.ie National Senior Indoor Championships which take place at the Sport Ireland National Indoor Arena in Dublin on February the 18th and 19th 2023.