The winner of the Fermanagh Herald Overall Sports Person of the Year award had a 2014 to remember.
Mark Hoy had his best season ever last year, winning the 800 metres in the Ulster Championships. It was his first senior title.
In that month he set a new event record at a meet to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the first ever sub four minute mile, run by Roger Bannister in 1954. At the Belfast mile he came in first at 4:19.03.
For Hoy, it’s just another step along the road to where he wants to be.
“You talk about year on year improvements. You want to be getting better every year. Everyone has a personal best, you’re at your own level but this year I was obviously racing with the best in Ireland, so you want to get better and beat them and get better. The better you get the more titles you’ll win,” said Hoy.
“In 2014 I just kept winning. We joked at training one night after I won the Ulster title that the year before I couldn’t win a race if you paid me but I couldn’t stop winning them in June – so it was fantastic.
“My two big wins were the Irish Universities 1500m title and the 800m Ulster senior title.
“I went into the universities not really sure how fit I was. I had a decent indoor season but that was the first big race. I went in probably as one of the favourites but not the stand out favourite. I just played to my strengths, I knew the race would go out slow, go out tactical. And come the last 400m I knew was faster than any of them over 400m in a single race. So I went for it and it paid off.
“The Ulster 800 I went into that quite confident – you get to know the guys you be racing against. You know the form the other guys are in. Going into the last 400m I knew again that I’d be faster, so I just went for it and thankfully none of them followed me,” said Hoy.
Naturally, the 22-year-old Enniskillen man was delighted to have his achievements recognised at the biggest night in local sport.
“It was the last thing I expected to be honest,” said Hoy. “Going through and looking at all the other guys – phenomenal talent. It’s crazy, you live in Fermanagh and you don’t hear about all this. You follow the paper week on week but you forget about it throughout the year. You read it and think that’s great, but you move on and focus on your own sport.
“To see the amount of talent in Fermanagh is incredible. There’s four athletes in the final 12, so for me seeing my sport represented was phenomenal and actually three of the athletes were coached by Francie Shaw at St Michael’s – so Francie has had a big part to play in getting us all to where we are now – without him we wouldn’t be in the sport.
“Mark Connolly, coaches me and Ciaran Dolan. When I left school Mark was very quick to pick me up and bring me through to where I am now – I more or less owe it all to him,” said Hoy.
Hoy is a young man with a big future ahead of him, so it’s little surprise he already has 2015 mapped out.
“I was sick a bit over Christmas so I wasn’t quite where I needed to be in training.
“I got it back together over January and raced once last week in the Irish university championship over 400m and made the final which I didn’t expect. I was happy to come away with two strong races.
“I’m going back now for the national senior indoors which are next weekend. I’ll go back to that and run the 400. If I could run sub 50 seconds indoors for the 400 that’s faster than the outdoors last year. It’s just year on year improvement before the 800 in the summer,” said Hoy.