Sport NI President George Lucas: Defeats are an opportunity to improve – even if it takes 45 years…

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1 Up and at it – what’s your morning routine?

I am a creature of habit and get up at 7am every morning. I eat my breakfast, then check my e-mail before going for a walk. The rest of the morning normally includes a few meetings and a game of tennis.

2 What might you eat on a typical working day during…

Breakfast? I like to start the day with a bowl of cereal and toast.

Lunch? Lunch is normally something light, maybe a bowl of soup or a sandwich.

Dinner? For dinner, I try to keep it healthy with fish or meat and veggies – or, for a bit of a treat, a pasta dish.

3 Is nutrition important to you – do you take any supplements?

I’m trying to stay fit and healthy at 75, so yes, nutrition is important to me. I don’t take any health supplements, but I make sure I eat a balanced diet with lots of fruits and vegetables.

4 Have you ever been on a diet? If yes, how did it happen?

About 15 years ago I was struggling with my weight and decided to join Weight Watchers. I managed to lose 2.5 stone and since then I have been able to maintain my weight around 13 stone. Not too bad for a man my age.

5 Weekend treat?

I love scones with butter and jam and have one almost every day – why wait for the weekend?

6 How do you stay physically and mentally fit?

I am a firm believer in a healthy body, a healthy mind. I play tennis five times a week and walk 10,000 steps almost every day.

7 Best tip for everyday fitness?

Stay active and practice the sport you love, as often as possible and don’t stop because of age. Age should not be a barrier to sport and physical activity. I may not be as fast as I used to be on a tennis court, but that doesn’t stop me from playing. Walking is also great for daily fitness. a good walk is possible for most people and even better if you can enjoy it with friends.

8 Were you a fan of school sports/EPS or do you have a memory of that time that you would rather forget?

I was passionate about all the sports offered at school. I didn’t really excel in any area, but I always loved tennis. My father rented the garden from the Downshire Tennis Club in Hillsborough and I was encouraged to work there on Saturdays. When someone came to play tennis and didn’t have a partner, I was asked to play. They were usually older and better than me, so it was a great opportunity to learn and grow…and the perfect way to avoid working in the garden. I then took part in the Ulster Under-21 Championships in Belfast, where I was drawn against the number one seed, Paul Hutchins. I lost 6-0, 6-0 and was lucky to get the nil. It was humbling, but 45 years later I played for the Irish Over 65 team at the Four Nations Seniors Competition in Birmingham, where we won our age group for the first time in a competition of veterans. This proves that age is a great leveler and that we should not be put off by our defeats. They are an opportunity to improve and grow, even if it takes you 45 years like me.

9 Teetotal or drink?

Antialcoholic. I enjoyed a glass or two of wine, but gave up alcohol on my 70th birthday.

10 Staircase or elevator?

I try to choose the stairs – it helps me reach my goal of 10,000 steps per day.

11 What book are you currently reading?

Autobiography of Rod Laver. Rod Laver was my hero growing up and I really appreciate being able to reflect on how he developed as a player and as a person and the people who helped him along the way. I met him at a party at Wimbledon a few years ago and was very impressed with his down-to-earth attitude. He is a great ambassador for tennis.

12 best Netflix?

I enjoyed Last Kingdom and Godless on Netflix but Star Wars remains my favorite – produced by my namesake…

13 The most surprising thing you learned about yourself during the pandemic?

I’ve always been a people person, but I was surprised at how much I missed interacting with others. I appreciate being able to socialize with my friends and family and spend more time with Sport NI staff.

14 New skills or hobbies?

Not really, but I’ve enjoyed pub quizzes over the years.

15 How do you relax?

Family is the most important aspect of my life and I love spending time with my grandchildren. The whole family usually get together a few times a year in Culdaff, Co Donegal where we have a holiday home and these are really special occasions.

16 What are your objectives for 2022?

This year, Sport NI launched its new five-year plan – The Power of Sport – so my main focus for 2022 is to help the Sport NI team achieve its strategic goals and maximize the power of sport to change lives.

17 What time do you go to bed and do you think you get enough sleep?

I go to bed as soon as I’m tired, usually around 11 p.m. Eight hours is enough.

18 Biggest gripe?

I try to avoid having blame because it wastes energy and leads down a slippery slope of negativity.

19 Have your priorities in life or outlook changed?

Yes, priorities change and evolve with age and aspirations temper with experience. However, my parents instilled in me the belief of trying to help others and that still remains an aspiration, combined with being satisfied with my own life.

20 Has the coronavirus changed your attitude towards your own mortality?

I think the Covid restrictions have taught us how important normal life is and, for me, the pandemic has reinforced the need to value each day and be grateful for what we have.

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