Sarah O'Brien

In the first interview of 2012 we talk to basketball player and Individual Performance Programme athlete, Sarah O'Brien.

An interview with Sarah O'Brien: one of the CSE's performance athletes in basketball.

The GB Senior team is obviously the dream which I’ll keep chipping away at.

Sarah O'Brien

Individual Performance Programme athlete: Basketball

This is Sarah’s first year on the Individual Performance Programme.

Here's what she had to say when we caught up with her...


How did you get into basketball?

I actually have no idea! I used to do every sport. I’m from Glasgow and my parents would take me to any sport I wanted. I did taekwondo and football but they started a basketball team at my school and it was the first year they had ever done the club. I went along and absolutely loved it. It was about a year and half after I started that I just quit everything else I was doing and stuck to basketball. It’s been that way ever since.

Sarah has been playing basketball for nearly ten years.

Career highlights?

Last year being the Captain of Scotland’s Senior Women’s team. Playing in the European Championships in my first year as a Senior. Also being the under 18 Captain of Scotland and making the Great Britain Under 20 squad.

What does your typical week look like?

Monday is usually university training. Tuesday I have university training at seven in the morning and club training later. I do weights on a Wednesday and Friday. I have university games on a Wednesday, club training on a Thursday and then club games at the weekends.

How do you manage to fit in your academic studies as well as competing at such a high level?

Use all your time! If you have an hour between classes you need to use it. While you’re eating your dinner you do your work. It’s pretty much rolling from one thing to the next. I’ve managed 10 weeks of placement with it so it seems to have been working.

Why did you apply to be on the Individual Performance Programme?

I applied for it when I was going into first year because I’d heard a little bit about it and I’d never done any weights training before. I thought I’d apply for it again last year because I made it through to the Great British squad where I went to camp. I really think that if I had this sort of programme it could help me. I do definitely see the difference in my performance.

The best part of the programme for me is the weights and the advice because I’ve always thought my game lacked that wee thing. I feel I’m a lot stronger and I can go harder.

What are the best bits about training and competing at Edinburgh and the University?

I’ve always wanted to play here and now I can, I’ve got an excuse.

Sarah O'Brien

Well, in Glasgow they don’t have a Senior team and their university teams aren’t as good. Our university team are playing in BUCS (British University and College Sport) and even although we might not be competing at the highest BUCS level this year I am still getting the chance to play against players that I might be playing at Great Britain level. I think that it’s more beneficial than being in the Scottish league and winning games by 30-40 points each time.

The club teams here are so much better as well. They’re a lot more organised and everything is very set in stone as they’ve been going for over 20 years. I’ve always wanted to play here and now I can, I’ve got an excuse.

Sporting hero?

It was actually my first ever coach, James Mckechnie. He was from the East of Glasgow and he ended up playing for Scotland and GB. He set up this club and ran it on his own, single-handedly for 20 odd years but sadly four years ago he passed away and the club fell apart without him. He taught me absolutely everything; that basketball comes first and to never miss training - I’ve always held to that so he’s definitely my sporting hero.

Where do you see yourself in your sport in three years time?

Hopefully finished my degree with a permanent job as a PE teacher. I’ll hopefully have played for the BUCS World University Team which I’ve got another year to work towards. Then GB Senior is obviously the dream which I’ll keep chipping away at and see how that goes whilst still representing Scotland at Seniors.

If you could go on holiday anywhere, where would you go and who would you take?

I would go to Boston in America and I would take my dad because we both love the Boston Celtics!

What does your year ahead look like?

We made the final 8’s for BUCS so I’ve got that with the university team and a university challenge game in February in the Pleasance. After the season finishes we’ve got the play-offs for the league. Then the Scotland Senior team are going to Macedonia in July for the European Small Country Championships, I’ve been to Macedonia before and I absolutely loved it so hopefully we’ll have a good time there.

I’ve also got two semesters and some exams at the end of April then that’s me for the year.

Interviewed in January 2012.


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