One of the most inspirational Irish people we have ever met here in Australia is Sinead Diver. Described as an ‘accidental runner’ due to discovering her talent later-in-life, doing things differently has certainly been to her advantage. A decade on from starting to run, Sinead is now renowned as one of the most celebrated athletes competing for Australia, with her sights set on the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.
Originally from Mayo in Ireland, Sinead is now based in Melbourne with her husband Colin and two children, Eddie and Dara.
“I grew up in Belmullet on the west coast of Ireland. There wasn’t a big focus on sports in my primary or secondary school, the teachers were very conservative and sports was seen as something only ‘for the boys’. I was always quite competitive though and would play soccer with the boys after school.
“I studied Physical Education and Irish at college with the intention of becoming a teacher, but when I started my teaching practise I just felt too young to pursue it. That’s when I started working in IT, and I really enjoyed it! In 2002 Colin and I left Ireland to spend a year in Australia and we fell in love with the place,” she says.
Sinead first started running ten years ago while on maternity leave with her first son. After her sister Gráinne invited her to join a local running group, her incredible athletic ability revealed itself. Much to Sinead’s surprise, she ended up clocking the fastest time of the pack around The Tan, a 3.8km loop in Melbourne, despite being a novice runner.
Sinead hasn’t slowed down since, with her impressive running resume now including finishing in first place at the 2018 Melbourne Marathon and fifth place in 2019 at the runners’ mecca – the New York City Marathon.
“As a working mother and athlete, initially it had been hard trying to strike the balance between training with my career and family, but we’ve settled into a groove. Other professional athletes might train in the morning and the evening and rest in between. In my case I’m fortunate in that my work has been really supportive and flexible,” she says.
Although hoping to compete for Ireland on the world stage at the 2015 World Championships in Beijing, a last-minute change from Athletics Ireland saw Sinead missing out on qualifying for her home country by just 45 seconds. Instead, Sinead has been proud to represent her “home away from home” by donning the Australian colours. Although she’ll wear an Aussie vest in Tokyo – she’ll still run with a hint of the Irish tricolour.
“When I compete internationally, I always do something to celebrate my Irish roots, like painting my nails green, white and orange. Last year, Irish pioneer and superstar athlete Sonia O’Sullivan even gave me a pair of Irish socks for the Doha World Athletics Championships,” she laughs. “I was so proud and it meant so much!”
“I’m really looking forward to competing in 2021,” Sinead says. “I’ve been putting my all into this and have been training hard as the Olympics is the highlight of any athlete’s career. We’re living in such uncertain times at the minute, but that hasn’t shaken my determination or focus. If anything, it’s made me more resolved than ever. Life is short and if you have a dream, go for it.”
As she continues training for Tokyo 2021, Sinead has also been kept busy with her new role as a brand ambassador for CurrencyFair, the leading foreign exchange marketplace and global payments platform.
“I am delighted to be working with CurrencyFair as they’re really connected to the story of expats abroad and have been giving us a cheaper alternative when sending money overseas for over ten years. I know first-hand how costly it can be using traditional providers,” says Sinead. “CurrencyFair’s service is fast, they charge a standard flat fee, people and businesses get great rates and you can access the platform from anywhere in the world.”
Based in Dublin, CurrencyFair was founded as a challenger to banks by a group of expats looking for a low-cost, simple way to move money across borders. Now a global brand, it offers low-margin foreign exchange rates in up to 21 currencies with transfers available to over 150 countries.
We were lucky to chat to Sinead in a recent zoom interview about the new partnership, please see below for more.