Leah O’Connor’s Dad on Raising a Professional Runner
We have six children and Leah is our third-born. She was very easy to parent as long as you knew she wouldn’t just accept yes and no, you always had to have a reason. She was always up for a challenge and was always competitive.
We have a farm, and I remember one time, when she was two, looking out the window and seeing Leah 25 feet up the hay elevator. Her mother went out to get her down, and she knew that if she acted overly excited, Leah would sprint to the top. At two she wasn’t afraid to challenge herself.
Even though we’ve always known she is motivated, never in our wildest dreams did we think she would evolve the way that she has in the world of track and field. Her mother and I aren’t convinced she’s hit the ceiling yet.
I was raised to be a dairy farmer. My father took over his father’s dairy farm. We had 120 dairy cows. I used to go with my dad on dairy trips, picking up milk in milk cans. We used to stop at every house on our road because they had cans for pick up. It’s the most rewarding and hardest job I’ve ever had, and it’s made me appreciate how food gets to the table.
Nutrition wasn’t something we talked about, but we always had family dinners together. We were very careful to make sure all of our kids had a balanced diet and milk was always a part of it. Raising healthy kids requires a healthy diet.
My advice to other dads is to always keep it fun. They’ve got enough coaches and teachers. Be their dad. Encourage them, love them, and support their dreams.
For kids who look up to Leah and what she’s accomplished: know that it takes hard work and time to develop into everything you can be.