‘I’m not living the lifestyle that has been insinuated’ – Lee Chin rejects claims going full time affected his form


Wexford's Lee Chin
Wexford’s Lee Chin

Wexford hurling star Lee Chin has rejected claims that his decision to become a full-time athlete has negatively affected his performances on the field after a “disappointing” inter-county season.

Earlier this year the 25-year-old revealed that he no longer had a day job outside of hurling and was instead supported financially by sponsorship deals, which allowed him to focus fully on his sporting commitments.

Chin’s move broke the mould in a sport that still clings to its amateur’ status, a title that starts to seem fanciful as more and more athletes receive sponsorship backing and enjoy a lifestyle that makes them professionals in all but name.

However, 2018 was a mixed season for Wexford hurling’s most recognisable star. Chin himself admits that we did not see the best of him this summer, and inevitably as a result his lifestyle choice has come in for criticism.

Jackie Tyrrell was one of the dissenting voices, claiming that Chin has “no edge to him anymore” after becoming a full-time athlete. In his Irish Times column, Tyrrell suggests that the lack of a day job could lead to a lack of focus, with Chin merely “whiling away the hours on the couch” before training. It is a conclusion that Chin strongly rejects.

“I think a lot of people might have their own opinion on what way I’m living my life, and I suppose the way I live my life might not work for them,” Chin told Independent.ie.

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“But I’m not living the lifestyle that has been insinuated there at all. I live my life the way I like to live it and I don’t think it had any effect on my game at all.

“A lot of people might see my performances this year and looked at them as under-performances, and I would be disappointed with the year that I had myself, but you have good days and you have bad days. I wouldn’t necessarily put it down to the way I’m living my life.

“People read what’s in the paper, and a lot of people don’t know what other stuff might go on in my life.

“I think I live a healthy lifestyle, an active lifestyle, and it’s not all about just hurling for me either, although I do put my life into it as I think anyone else would at that level.”

It was a frustrating season not only for Chin but also for his county. Wexford’s summer was a difficult one to assess, in Leinster they were competitive with defending champions Galway and fell agonisingly short against Kilkenny, while Clare put an end to their All-Ireland aspirations at the quarter-final stage.

“I think overall we would have been pretty disappointed with how year went,” Chin concedes.

“What I mean is, three or four years ago we would have been almost happy with the season we just had, but given the standard we have, particularly from last year, we would have been disappointed how we performed in certain games this year.”

Davy Fitzgerald, who has been in charge for the past two years, has confirmed he will stay on with Wexford and he gets Chin’s approval.

“I think Davy Fitz is definitely the man for Wexford going forward,” added Chin.

“I know personally that I want him back with us. I think he’s done a great service to Wexford over the last two years and he’s brought us to new levels and new heights, and I’ll be forever grateful for that.”

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Joint captain Lee Chin and manager Davy Fitzgerald

In the immediate aftermath of Limerick’s semi-final victory over Cork, Shane Dowling asked supporters to give his side space to breathe as they prepared for the final, a move Chin praised as a “touch of class”. But even as the face of Wexford hurling, Chin says he doesn’t feel any overbearing pressure or expectation from supporters within his own county.

“I think people in Wexford are very good that way they don’t demand or expect too much from us,” Chin says.

“I think a lot of people have recognised over last two years, with Davy’s work, no matter how this year went we have still have improved from a couple of years ago.

“They’ve been getting so many good days out over the last two years as well that they are really enjoying their hurling at the moment. It’s not there’s too much expectation down here, it’s all positive at the moment. We just have to put this year behind us and move on to next summer.

Chin does admit, however, that ultimately the goal has to be silverware, and as great as Wexford’s recent progress has been, it needs to continue.

“Of course it’s frustrating as a team that we haven’t got over that quarter-final stage yet, and it’s something we really want to do.

“Unfortunately we’ve got to that stage numerous times over the last couple of years, and we found it difficult to find a performance on that day.

“It’s very early to be talking next year and what our goals are, but obviously as a group of players we want to win something. We don’t know what that is yet, but to win something would be fantastic.”

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