In countries around the world, there is always a desire to catch the eye of political leaders in support of projects and programmes.Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was one of more than 1,100 people who participated in Dublin City Triathlon in the Phoenix Park this morning (Sunday).
In Ireland we have always been blessed with the tradition of Taoisigh, Presidents and Ministers attending sporting events whether it be All Ireland Finals, Rugby and Soccer Internationals or more but today we can look back on a weekend when the leader of our country took off his suit and tie and got involved, again, in a much more physically active way.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was one of more than 1,100 people who participated in the Dublin City Triathlon in the Phoenix Park yesterday.
He swam 750m in the River Liffey, cycled 20km around the Phoenix Park and ran 5km to the finish line where he was greeted by a large crowd of his fellow competitors.
Also racing was the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Eoghan Murphy and CEO of Vodafone Ireland Anne O’Leary.
“It was a nice race, the Liffey was remarkably warm and clean,” he said after completing in a time of one hour and thirty-nine minutes. “I enjoyed the swim, got a bit tired on the bike and the run but it was nice to have done it anyway.”
“I guess I’ve long arms and legs so the swim is my favourite part. I’m getting a bit better on the bike, the run was tough, I am not sure my fitness levels are what they should be but it was a great race, there were loads of people here and I’m really grateful to the organisers, the volunteers who make events like this happen and the Gardaí of course.”
“Lots of people train and have busy lives as well, whether it’s a work life or looking after kids so you just have to work at it and get into a routine. Different things suit different people so for me it’s the first thing in the morning, between 7 am and 8 am, three or four days a week. I just do some high-intensity training and that sets you up for the day.”
This was Mr Varadkar’s fourth triathlon but his first as Taoiseach. He said the increased public profile from his job did make this experience a little different: “It keeps you going because when you’re thinking of slowing down and you see people ahead, you don’t want the embarrassment of walking by them so it does help you to keep going!”
There is no straight line from a fit and active Taoiseach to a greater voice for sport and wellbeing around the cabinet table but it sure does no harm.
Triathlon Ireland, Vodafone, Sport Ireland and the Government through the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport are among more than 200 active members of the Sport for Business community.