As a multiple Irish record holder, three time Olympian, and five time Championship medal winner, including being crowned World Champion, Derval O’Rourke is one of Ireland’s greatest athletes. Green Isle recently announced Derval, who is also a best-selling cookbook author and coach on RTÉ’s Ireland’s Fittest Family, as its first brand ambassador. She talks to Donna Ahern about her new role and her career to date.
How would you describe your role as Brand Ambassador for Green Isle?
Together with Green Isle, I hope that I can help make life easier for families by encouraging them to make good, simple changes to their meal planning and diets.
Most of us eat every day, so it about making that connection between mental and physical health and diet, and helping consumers to make it all work together.
How did you feel when Green Isle chose you as its first brand ambassador?
I took it at as a big compliment. Green Isle is such a highly regarded and respected household brand.
For me, it is very important to be associated with an authentic brand, so it’s lovely that they chose me to represent them.
Your new partnership will see you create a range of Green Isle recipes for the family to enjoy. What is your favourite recipe?
One of my favourite dishes is a simple pea and pasta dish that I could eat every day and my kids love it.
It reminds me of a dish I once had when I was out in Italy, and although it tastes very fancy, it is simple to make.
Essentially from start to finish, you can have your dinner on the table in just a few minutes.
What has been the highlight of your career?
Overall, I think it is showing sprinters that they can be optimistic at a European and World Championship level in athletics.
I would also like to believe that I have left a legacy at a high level, so that Irish female sprinters know they can also do it and be a part of that elite athletic world.
What do you enjoy most about your role as a coach on Ireland’s Fittest Family?
I don’t know any other show that gets families to compete together.
I enjoy getting to meet the families and to see why they are motivated to compete.
Every family is there for different reasons and I enjoy hearing their stories.
Sometimes we would be there filming for 12 hours, so it is incredible to see how each family helps and supports each other.
People think that it is all about the races, but there is a huge amount more going on behind the scenes.
Who was the strongest competitor that you faced during your athletics career?
The Swedish athlete Susanna Kallur.
I first competed against her as a teenager and then again at the European Championships in Gothenburg.
To come second to someone at that level was an incredible feeling.
What is the best advice that you like to give?
Where I am at in life at the moment, I think the most important thing is to remind yourself of maintaining balance and to be protective of your time.
Time is something that you can’t get back, so you need to be conscious of how you spend it.
Who would come to your ideal dinner party (living or dead)?
The Queen of England. I just find her very interesting.
She would have great stories to tell and, of course, the dinner party would have to be very fancy.
Sarah Blakely, the founder of shapewear brand Spanx.
I think she would have interesting conversations with the Queen.
One of my own girlfriends – to keep it kind of normal!
I think that would be an interesting combination of guests.
Can you tell us something about yourself that we don’t already know?
I enjoy mackerel fishing – my husband and I have a little fishing boat.
I like going out on the boat and be bopping around in the sea.
It is such a departure from my normal life.
It’s not about catching the fish – it’s about being in the moment.