Council Chair hosts reception to honour double Gold European and World Masters Athletics Champion

21st December 2022

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Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen

As Chair of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, I am delighted to welcome you all here to the Townhall, Enniskillen this evening for this reception in honour of Denise Toner, Double Gold World Masters Athletics Champion.

Denise, I understand that you started running at the age of 9 and you enjoyed success in many competitions into your early teens.  You then gave up running to play Gaelic Football for St Patrick’s GFC, Donagh and you also made the Ulster Select Team in the Colleges Football.

Running was still a keen interest and you returned to the sport in 2010 and over the following number of years you took the road race scene by storm.

You received an invitation to represent the North of Ireland in the Inter Area Challenge in London in 2014 where you broke two Irish Over 35 age group records in the 1500m and 3000m.  This together with a cross country injury, encouraged you to consider track and field athletics.

You continued to enjoy success and this was recognised by the Council previously when you were awarded Senior Sport Personality of the Year in 2019.

It had always been a childhood dream to represent Ireland on the international stage and you have certainly achieved this with great success.

Earlier this year you competed in the European Masters Athletics Championships in Portugal winning gold in both the 1500m and 3000m.

The World title was your ultimate goal and you travelled to Finland in June/July to compete in the World Masters Athletics Championships.

You competed in both the 800m and the 1500m and your desire, drive and endurance saw you race home to claim a gold medal in both.

Being world class in any sport requires commitment and hard work to maintain your fitness levels.  You have certainly shown great commitment and hard work over the years alongside your work and family life.

The famous runner Jo Pavey once said “There can be ups and downs along the way but by relishing the challenge you can enjoy the journey whatever the outcome.”

Denise, you set yourself the challenge of achieving world success.  You travelled the journey and experienced some ups and downs along the way, however, you reached your dream destination.

To achieve this alongside your family commitments and a busy career as a teacher is truly remarkable.  You are an inspiration to anyone who has the ambition to achieve the top accolade in any sport.

On behalf of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, and on my own behalf, I would like to congratulate you on your World and European Gold medals.  You have certainly done yourself, your family, your running club and the District proud.