Robbie Cannon (right) with with fellow Raheny medallist @FeidhlimKellyHow many South of Ireland champions have won sprint medals at provincial level in athletics? Get in touch if you know but in the meantime, my hat’s off to Balbriggan bullet Robbie Cannon.

The 2009 “South” winner picked up a bronze for the 200 metres in the Leinster Indoor Athletics Championships in Athlone on Saturday with a time of 24.52 seconds. Amazingly, it was a his first race since primary school.

It wasn’t his fastest time but considering he was drawn in the outside lane, he’s obviously been picking up plenty of tips at the Morton Stadium, where he carries out his work as one of Ireland’s up-and-coming strength and conditioning coaches.

As Robbie explains on his website,, his dedication to training transformed his body and helped him win his first amateur major and an Ireland call-up:

“I have been hitting the gym for a decade now. For the first six years I thought I was training the right way and eating the right foods. Using machines and running on treadmills. Eating lots of “healthy” pasta and fruits. Sure, I was reasonably lean and looked fit. I had the physique of a long distance runner and i was certainly not as strong as I should be for a guy who is 6 foot 2. I didn’t have much muscle mass. I certainly didn’t look ripped. It seemed like I was training 3-4 times a week for 90 minutes at a time and not making any gains. I was swimming against the tide. This had to change.

Robbie Cannon in action for Ireland“I decided to go back to college. I started to read a lot. I met some great people. I started to learn. I realised what I had been doing the previous six years was not very productive. More importantly I started to train more efficiently and started to eat like a proper athlete. Within a few weeks I started to see some amazing results. Muscle appearing in places that never had before. Bodyfat was stripping off me really fast. My body shape started to really change and I started to look like a sprinter rather than a marathon runner. Also very importantly as a golfer my mobility improved and my body started to look more balanced.

“It was no coincidence that after a winter of training the proper way I won my first major amateur championship that summer and made my international debut for Ireland. Getting myself into proper athletic shape was one of the main reasons for that successful season. There is no doubt in my mind that i would not have acheived two life ambitions if i had not made this training and lifestyle change.”

I popped into Morton Stadium to see Robbie before Christmas to get a feel for what he might be able to do for the ordinary golfer.

He walked me through a basic gym programme that identified my few strengths and many physical weaknesses. It was simple to understand and given even a modicum of willpower, I hope to put his ideas into practice this year.

Now that the New Year resolutions have been made and broken, anyone serious about improving their golfing fitness would do well to give him a call before the golfing season begins in earnest. Just don’t take him on in any sprints.