Commonwealth Games competitor Patrick Tiernan preparing to take part in Toowoomba's Peak2Park run last month.
Commonwealth Games competitor Patrick Tiernan preparing to take part in Toowoomba's Peak2Park run last month. Kevin Farmer

Pat finds his niche as running journey gathers pace

PATRICK Tiernan doesn't know from where he inherited an ability to run and keep running.

His boyhood passion was cricket, and who knows, if it wasn't for the keen eye of his St Anthony's grade-four teacher Tom Bradbury he might have pulled on a baggy green.

Next Friday he'll wear something just as important when he carries the green and gold of Australia in the 2018 Commonwealth Games 10km run on the Gold Coast.

Tiernan has now found his niche as a 5000 and 10,000km runner.

His apprenticeship is complete.

The 23-year-old is finally in a comfortable place as he continues plotting a path to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Last week he looked back on the journey that took him first to the Rio Olympics two years ago and now to the Gold Coast.

"I was maybe eight or nine when I first started and that was purely due to Tom Bradbury,” Tiernan recalled

"Tom was actually my year-four teacher at the time.

"I think he just saw my running around one morning at a school cross-country practice.

"He came up to me afterwards and said do you want to come out to this Fun Run on Sunday at Newtown Park.

"So I went out there, had a run and did pretty well.

"Tom then asked did I want to come along to some training sessions that he held on Mondays and Wednesdays and from there it started a good nine or 10 year coach and athlete relationship with Tom.

"That's really what got me going.

"I think my grand-father was an all-right sprinter back in his day, but there were no distant (running) athletes in the family.

"I'd say both mum and dad's families were athletic, playing a lot of sports when they were growing up but no-one went on later to do anything with it.

"My brother (Jack) runs as well but we're not sure where it comes from.

"I always wanted to play cricket at a top level when I was younger, even until I was about 16 or 17.

"I played a lot of cricket and tried my hand at a bunch of winter sports.

"I really enjoyed it and I had a lot of good mates growing up through that.

"Toowoomba Road Runners was also a big part of my early years in the sport.

"I did well as a junior.

"I won an Australian cross-country title when I was 11 which I didn't think meant as much at the time.

"It was exciting, but I was still very much involved in my cricket and I wanted to do very well at that.

"Probably the first race where I thought I could keep going with this wasn't until I was 17 when I won the 1500 and 5000-metre track titles.

"I hadn't done anything very special on the track at all. I loved my cross country and I was very good at that.

"But cross country is not an Olympic sport and you can't be a professional cross-country runner.”

Philadelphia-based Marcus O'Sullivan now coaches Tiernan, whose immediate athletic's future is secure through the backing of his sponsor Nike.

"I'm a full-time athlete,” Tiernan said.

"I'm on a contract with Nike which will take me through until the Tokyo Olympics.

"That's great. It allows me to train full-time and put all my efforts into it which I'm learning is required if you want to compete at that type of level.

"I'm thankful for the opportunity Nike has given me.

"I'm also looking to start up a graduate program after the Commonwealth Games.

"I think it's important to keep your studies going while doing something like this.

"Unfortunately it does come to an end. It does have an expiry date and I do think you need to have interests outside of it.

"I've got a great group I'm surrounded by as far as my family and friends go and they've always been very supportive of what I'm doing.

"Tom always checks in with me. He always wants to make sure I'm doing everything I can to improve.

"The great part about our sport is you are always looking forward to the next Olympics.

"Obviously this year's Commonwealth Games is a bit more important being on home soil but your major focus is always on the next four years.

"I'd love to be able to get to the point where I'm competing for the top spot in Tokyo.”

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