Gallagher’s winning article entitled, “Deep Impact,” published in the Mail on Sunday, offers a fresh perspective into the life of an elite performer in what is one of the world’s most dangerous extreme sports.
Claire Walsh who hails from Leixlip, Co. Kildare, became an Irish record-holder earlier this year when she set two national records, when competing in the 2019 World Free Diving Championships in the French town of Villefranche-sur-Mer, outside Nice.
Her achievements of descending to a depth of 44 metres in the free immersion dive and 36 metres in the constant weight discipline are even more impressive considering she blacked out on her maiden dive in her first-ever world championships.
“I loved ‘Deep Impact’, said Anna Kessel, Investec 20×20 Media Awards judging panel Chair and Daily Telegraph’s Women’s Sports Editor.
“It’s rare that you get to read about extreme sports in national sports coverage unless a terrible accident has occurred. So, it was wonderful to read Mark Gallagher’s interview with Ireland’s record-setting free diver Claire Walsh, in which she joyfully described what it is about the sport that she loves so much, ‘the closest thing we will ever experience to flying.'”
“Gallagher didn’t shy away from the dangers, detailing the tragedies that have dogged the sport, but without sensationalising the risks and still affording Walsh the respect that a sportsperson of her achievement so deserves. Beautifully written, Gallagher’s entry stood out among this month’s articles.”
“The thought of being able to hold your breath for five minutes and 59 seconds like Claire is simply just astonishing, let alone descending to depths of the equivalent size of Liberty Hall,” added Mary O’Connor, CEO of the Federation of Irish Sport.
“Claire’s passion for her vocation and the sport of free diving shines through in this excellent article from Mark Gallagher. Claire is an Irish sporting pioneer.”
The Investec 20×20 Media Awards recognise and reward excellence in Irish journalism focused on Women in Sport. They acknowledge that increased visibility will lead to greater cultural recognition of girls and women in sport.
Diving is in the spotlight this weekend as the Irish National Championships featuring Olympian Oliver Dingley get underway at the Sport Ireland National Aquatic Centre.
Here is a look at what Free Diving is all about…
Image credits, Inpho.ie