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Denise in dreamland with European double

ANOTHER Championships behind her and it’s Monday morning at 7am and Denise Toner is homeward bound with a 9.30 flight out of Lisbon, back home to the Knocks.

By late afternoon and she’s getting a few calls from the local media who are looking to speak to her about what can only be described as a sensational weekend on the track.

As her sons land in the door from school, all delighted to see their champion mam, ten minutes later there’s a shout from upstairs from Piaras – ‘what’s for dinner mammy I’m starving’ followed by a “ mammy is my football kit washed?” from Cillian. There is regional squad training in Cootehill at 7.30pm and there’s little time for hanging about.

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Forty eight hours earlier Denise Toner had just crossed the finish line to complete the second part of a double at the European Masters Indoor Championships in Braga, Portugal. As she stood on the top step of the podium at the victory ceremony for the Women’s Over 40 1500, and having been presented with her second gold medal of the week, having won the 3000 metres on Thursday, the mother of three stood proudly as Amhran na bhfiann was played.

These are the moments that you train for and work towards, and the 43 year-old admits the weekend’s achievements are “right up there” in terms of her career highs.

While waiting to board the flight back home, Denise had time to take stock of her achievements. The Fermanagh woman put in remarkable times of 4.32.79 in the 1500m race and 9.55.99 in the 3000m.

“The one thing that has struck me is how convincing both victories were.

“I knew I was in terrific shape going into the championships as training had gone well and the three races I ran in the build up were right where my coach wanted me to be.”

There has been a lot of work to get to this point and in a twist of faith, the postponement of the championships due to the Covid-19 pandemic strangely worked out in Denise’s favour for a number of reasons.

“Two years ago when these championships were originally fixed for Braga before the Covid pandemic stepped in to change everything in our lives. I wouldn’t have been there as my father Sean was very ill while awaiting a liver transplant.

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“Two years on and dad has had the transplant and recovered very well and I’m now standing here post the rearranged championships with two gold medals for my efforts.”

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March was certainly a month to remember for Denise Toner. She laid down a marker early in the month...

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