Kate earns Texas scholarship

Local athlete Kate O’Connor is heading stateside next August having received a scholarship from the University of Texas. The talented 17-year old enjoyed a stellar year on the track finishing eighth in the Commonwealth Games in Australia for Northern Ireland where she was the youngest competitor to participate.
The St Gerard’s Athletic Club athlete who is in her leaving cert year in St Vincent’s Secondary School currently holds the Irish Senior record in the pentathlon as well as a number of junior and youth records including long jump and javelin.
Kate’s father Michael stated that his daughter is delighted with the scholarship offer and can’t wait to get started in Texas.
“Katie had quite a few offers on the table including UCLA, Kentucky and Penn State but ultimately the facilities and level of coaching in Texas swung it for her. We travelled to Texas a while ago to see for ourselves what was on offer and I have to say the set up they have over there is unbelievable. One of the coaches over there is called Kendra Harrison and as recently as July she broke the 100m hurdles record at a diamond league meeting in London. To think that an athlete of that standard will be coaching Kate is hard to believe.
“We spoke to Edrick Floreal who is the head coach of the Texas Longhorns track and field team in the university and he is looking forward to bringing Kate over and helping her improve. Kate is currently in training ahead of the indoor season and apart from her Leaving Cert which of course is her main focus this year she will also have an eye on the European Juniors which take place next summer,” stated Michael.
When asked why she chose Texas, Kate pointed to the facilities and coaches and looked forward to beginning her studies in her new home next August.
“I chose Texas because I found that all the other athletes were extremely warm and welcoming, and the coaches are all of professional standard. The facilities were absolutely amazing and I can really see myself progressing as an athlete and in my studies here,” she explained.
University of Texas coach Matt McGee also expressed excitement with regards to the imminent arrival of Kate.
“We couldn’t’ be happier to be adding Kate to our team as a combined events athlete. She will help continue the wonderful tradition here at The University of Texas. She brings truly international level credentials, along with an inspiring energy and character to our team.
“She already holds the Irish national indoor pentathlon record, and her junior heptathlon best would rank her second all-time in the US. This is most incredible for me, as she is still just beginning to develop in a number of her events. We very much enjoyed having Kate and her parents, Valerie and Michael, on the Forty Acres and look forward to welcoming Kate back,” noted Matt.

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