Derval O’Rourke admits she was always conscious of personal health and fertility during athletic career – RSVP Live

Derval O'Rourke has admitted that her health and body always came first throughout her professional career, and her performance was secondary to it.

Information about fertility and conceiving after training wasn't widely available at the time but Olympic hurdler kept becoming a mother in her mind and regularly consulted her doctor.

The Cork woman, who is mum to four-year-old Daphne and Archie, who is one, said sports stars are given a lot more help and assistance when it comes to their general health and well being these days.

Derval told RSVP Live: "I was always very conscious of my general health outside of performing. Throughout my career I always talked to my doctor and I looked at various options. It is not something that worried me.

"At the same time, I feel very fortunate that it wasnt an issue for me because so many people struggle. I was always aware that in my 20s and a lot of more athletes are worried about becoming pregnant now than they were 20 years ago.

"There is more information out there now and the Institute of Sport is taking care of the whole athlete now and not just the performer. There has been a real shift in care and support in recent times and that is a good thing.

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"I was surrounded by people who were really passionate about me being healthy as a person and my performance came secondary to that."

Derval confessed that family and work life is a big juggle at the moment, and it is definitely harder than normal while in lockdown.

She said: "I love my network of mothers that I meet up with all of the time and that has been a huge form of support since I became a parent almost five years ago.

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"It has been tough for me but they are living their best lives in lockdown because of the ages they are at. They are surrounded by their two parents who never leave the house and they play with us all of the time.

"I have five and ten minute pilates classes on my site and my four year old now does them with me.

"And now our one year old has started doing up dog, down dog and we dont know if it is because he has been watching me and his sister or if he is a secret pilates guru.

"They are healthy and happy but Peter and I have to remind ourselves to take the pressure off because it is such an unusual time and we cant expect too much of ourselves."

Derval also has no sympathy for Olympic athletes after the event was cancelled this year.

She said: "Olympic athletes are no different to the rest of us, we were all planning for different things this year. Yes, the Olympics are more public and it is a massive event.

"The good athletes will adapt very quickly and they will control what they can control and they will come out and do well next year.

"There might have been athletes who were injured or sick and this cycle might not have worked for them and all of a sudden next year could be bonus territory for them.

"Sport is amazing and is great entertainment, but it is not people's lives.

"I would be in touch with a lot of the Olympic athletes and they are all pretty okay with it and they will take their chances next year. And I think we will see some big stars emerging, those who have become mentally resilient after all of this."

The mother of two runs her own health and well-being website called derval.ie and she said that this isn't a time to be your best self and your absolute fittest.

She explained: "I think it has been particularly difficult for the over 70s because they were so cut off while being in their houses.

"With my parents, I gave them a few simple things to do and they do them twice a day. They do it at the same time twice a day and it takes about 20 minutes. Each week I talk to them about how they are getting on and I try to change things up depending on their feedback.

"If you are over 70, more than anything it is about structure and adding to your to do list everyday. One exercise could be walking from the back door to the front door while holding a bag of sugar.

"It is about getting into the mindset of staying moving within the confines of your house, it could be standing up and sitting down into a chair.

"When we come out of the other side, you want to be mobile and able to do the things you want to do."

It is unknown if Ireland's Fittest Family will return this year but Derval said that working with Davy Fitzgerald is really interesting because they both have fiery personalities.

She said: "Donnacha is not fiery and Anna is more determined so Davy and I are the most determined to kill each and we have at least one big fight every year. And they always happen off camera, they are never normally captured on camera.

"We are both really competitive and we both dont take losing well. We have complete love/hate relationships.

"We are thick as thieves 99% of the time and he is someone that I would trust with anything outside of TV work. When it comes to competing against each other, we can kill each other so it is a very hot and cold relationship. We are talking at the moment which is good."

Visit derval.ie for more information

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Derval O'Rourke admits she was always conscious of personal health and fertility during athletic career - RSVP Live

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