DCU final year student Cormac Dalton has recently signed for the University of Tulsa, marking yet another tick off the long list of goals for the Mullingar man.
‘’I am so happy to get going, it’s been a dream of mine for a long time and now it’s finally going to come through.”
Cormac started running when he was nine years old, after being encouraged by his mam to get involved. He says this is where the initial interest started.
“My mam entered me into a few competitions and that was it really. She was a runner herself and studied over in Arkansas for a year. That was always something in the back of my head. I came 4th, I was only 9, but it seemed like the Olympics to me.’’
His interest was not a lot at the start, and much like other boys his age, preferring soccer and football to running. However, he stuck with it and it has paid off.
“I wasn’t really that interested at the start, as soccer and football training seemed more fun. But I stuck with it and eventually started to enjoy it. I made a few friends and started to do better in races. When I was 11, I was around 40th place in the Leinster Cross Country championship, and within a year I was coming first.”
He continued to improve throughout secondary school, eventually finding his way onto international tracks and donning the prized green vest.
“I continued running throughout secondary school, progressing and advancing with each race. Eventually, I gave up soccer because I felt athletics had a little bit more for me to give. In my second and third year, I was able to wear the Irish vest for international school competitions and race against people from England and Scotland. ”
Cormac then turned to focus on his studies in his sixth year, hoping to study biotechnology at DCU.
“In secondary school, I suffered quite a few injuries, like breaking bones in my foot or pulled muscles. Running so much takes a toll on your body. It was also a massive struggle to balance races and studying for my exams, so I was surprised that it worked out.’’
Once he got to DCU, he decided to focus on strength and conditioning and learn about the road to recovery a bit more.
“The facilities in DCU have led me to where I am today. When I came here in my first year, I decided with my coach to build up my strength and help my body as much as possible. It is tough to run so many miles and train every week so this was really important for me to excel.’’
“In the last year, I have really nailed that consistency and performed better than I ever have. In my second year of college, I qualified for my first major cross-country competition in Lisbon and came 2nd in the u23s.”
Dalton explains how performing in DCU as well as in other competitions, gave him a real taste of what a successful stint in athletics would look like.
“Lisbon was my first experience on a big stage, and around then I started to think about my future. My dream was to always go to the states. I saw my mam going, and a few lads I knew, and it seemed like the coolest experience.’’
After that race, it was like Dalton could see what was ahead of him and made the decision to start thinking about a post-graduate degree in America.
“I knew I would have a shot at going to the USA. In the last few months, I emailed lots of schools and teams in the states and expressed my interest in coming over and doing a post-grad. I talked to lots of coaches because of my cross-country success. ”
After months of back and forth emails and Zoom interviews, Tulsa seemed like the obvious choice.
“They are 5th in the American school system for athletics, which is brilliant. Tulsa has a lot of Irish and British guys out there. It seems like they have a good team environment and it’s definitely very exciting for me.”
I cannot wait to get over there and get started. I have been doing this for 13 years but there is more scope to tap into. I am only tapping into where I want to be.
“I am excited to see where things could go and what could happen, as opposed to settling in Ireland for a typical 9-5 job.”
Cormac thanked DCU for everything and encouraged other students to get involved.
“I would not be here without DCU. From the facilities to the scholarship, it has helped me so much, even in my first year, looking at people above me and how fast they were. DCU Athletics is a great program, renowned across the country for how good they are at what they do. Seeing how they operate, and the success of other people had really inspired me to keep going.”
“I would encourage anyone to get involved with the Athletics team here, it’s great. DCU Athletics is a great club. It is open to everyone. We accommodate everyone. It is a tight-knit community. ”
DCU is hoping to hold an indoor varsity cross country championship in March of this year but will be subject to current health guidelines and restrictions in Ireland.
Image Credit: DCU Athletics