Róise Roberts - Going the Distance

First-year Róise Roberts is a silver medallist at the U20 National Championships 1500m, and competed in the U20 Women’s 4000m race at the European Cross Country Championships two years in a row. She shares how DCU Sports has helped her to overcome injury and reach her goals.
How did you first get into athletics?

I started running when I was 16, when our teacher picked the two of us who were fastest to enter a schools’ race. I did well in the race, so I joined a running club in Belfast.

I like the structure of training. After a race, you get such a buzz, and I was doing really well at it. At 16, I ran in a race where if you come in the top two, you get selected to run for Ireland. I didn’t know that when I entered the race, but I came in second and got that chance. I think that was the moment when I realised running was something I could really pursue.

In 2021, I qualified for my first European Under 20s Cross Country Championships. That was a big goal of mine. It was incredible to see so many professional athletes that I recognised there.

What drew you to DCU as a student athlete?

The main reason I came to DCU was because of athletics. Nowhere else has the same teams and supports. I’m from Belfast, so when I first came to DCU, I didn’t know anyone. Thanks to the sports scholarship, I live on campus with other runners, and that’s been a great way to meet people.

I’m studying first-year Law and Spanish at DCU. I can see myself as a solicitor in the future because I like debating and working with people, but I wanted to have a language too. I really like our Spanish modules, because we have a lot more opportunities to speak the language than we did in school. I’m already looking forward to studying in Spain in third year.

How is DCU Sports helping you to achieve your goals?

When I started university, I moved from my home coach to a DCU coach. That meant I went from doing no strength and conditioning in my training to twice a week. They’re helping me train towards the time I need to reach.

Under my scholarship, I have financial support and free physio appointments. I get access to strength and conditioning training, gym membership and even sports massages twice a week from the Athletic Therapy and Training Clinic. We had warm weather training in Portugal this January, and it was the first time that I went somewhere and just focused on running. It was great for getting to know other people in athletics, because most of our sessions were together.

Before the European qualifiers this year, my coach noticed that something wasn’t right when I was running, and we realised I had problems with my shins. DCU was the best place for me to be with that injury. I was supported to rest and focus on cross-training, and I had access to physio every week. The year before, I wouldn’t have had that kind of support. At home, I didn’t even have access to a gym. Without the support of the team at DCU, I wouldn’t have been able to recover and make the team.

In the end, I came third in the European Trials, and guaranteed my place at the 2022 European Cross-Country Championships. I really enjoyed it – and I know that when I go again, I’ll race even better.

Paul was a really big help through my injury. He helped me get back to the level where I needed to be. It matters so much to have someone who really believes in you. Even when I wasn’t sure whether I’d make Europeans, he was in my corner.

How do you balance athletics with university?

It can be a challenge! I had an exam the morning after I flew back from the European Cross-Country Championships, and I ended up getting delayed in the airport. Paul got in touch with my lecturers to let them know. Luckily, I’d brought my work with me, so I had time to study in the airport! I got through the exam, but it was great to have that support.

I’m really enjoying running for DCU. I came second in the Irish Universities Athletics Association (IUAA) Cross-Country Championships this year, and we won gold for the women’s team. We have the IUAA outdoors coming up soon, and I’ll be competing in the 5000m there.

This January, I came second in the U20 National Championships 1500m and 3000m races. My goal now is to make the European U20s Championships 5000m or 3000m in August. And I don’t want to just compete at the U20 level and then never be heard of again. I want to get to a senior team at the European level.


Interested in Supporting Access?