Following an initial missed call, it soon became clear that Ciara Everard is an extremely busy woman. True to form, the 800m specialist was in the High Performance gym as the distinct clatters and bangs of hard work set the backdrop creating an air of juxtaposition with what was a refreshingly relaxed and candid conversation.

The Kilkenny native is currently in her final year of a two years Masters programme in Sports Physiotherapy in UCD, and “considers UCD home at this stage”. Having arrived as a Physiotherapy undergrad six years ago, Ciara explains went on to explain that “my setup is all in UCD, my coach is in UCD, my club is UCD.”

We began by discussing the current state of athletics in Ireland, and the former captain of UCD Athletics Club explained that the community is a welcoming one which is continuing to grow. “I train with a group here in UCD and anyone can show up to the training sessions, we have a really good mix, we have people from beginners to elite levels within the group.”

This appears to be an accurate representation of the nation’s attitude, as Ciara confirmed that her work has offered an insight into just how popular the sport has become. “Its incredible the amount of people running now, I probably see that more through the physio side of things, that way more people are coming in training for marathons, training for triathlons and even training for road races.”

Talk soon swung to the recent European Indoor Championship which took place in Prague, and the season best which she ran. Following two long spells of injury in recent years the chance to stretch the legs was crucial for Ciara. “It was good to run that time again as I haven’t ran it in two years now. Training was going well, it was more so the difficulty of getting races. I didn’t really have many opportunities to run fast.”

Ciara is living evidence that academia and sport can go hand in hand. Citing her passion for sport as the reason she first took a shine to physiotherapy, Ciara explains that; “I think the two complement each other really well, I have a good understanding of athletes and especially working in the DBC we’re working with elite athletes. It gives me a good idea of what they’re putting their bodies through as well as my own awareness.”

The area of injury is one which Ciara knows only too well, however she draws the positives from the situation which might break another athlete.

“My thesis is on looking at the psychological impact of returning from injury, its an area I’m interested in. It is quite difficult to return from injury but I think that I’ve benefited mentally. It took me last year to reach the level I was at before but thankfully I’m there now so I’m sure it’ll only benefit me in the long term.”

The surety and confidence in her tone leaves me in little doubt that Ciara will continue to progress come competition time this May