On the way out of the Ski Club of Ireland the other evening, I paused to think about Mohammad Ali, perhaps the greatest fighter of all time, as he had once stayed in the hotel, now closed, on the same site in Kiltiernan. I know this because my former running coach, Eddie McDonagh, used to go on runs with him (providing security apparently!) during his stay in Ireland.
A legend of Irish athletics, and most certainly of infamous Athletics Club, Dundrum South Dublin, Eddie has worked tirelessly for so many years, often standing for hours in the pouring rain, to support the hundreds if not thousands of young athletes that he has coached over the years from keen amateurs to Olympians and even pop stars John and Edward aka Jedward.
As he has done, and continues to do for so many other Athletes, Eddie gave me the most incredible personal support, focus and encouragement for athletics at a time where I was struggling to get fit again after an unfortunate injury that I thought I’d never come back from. Ultimately his support helped me to find greatness again in the form of several of the lifetime achievements of which I am most proud of to date. These included winning a 30km night time endurance race navigating over mountains, quality race finishes, PB’s and even a much coveted Senior Rugby Cap for Old Belvedere Rugby Club.
Sport breaks down all boundaries and can solve a huge amount of problems for many if it's properly engaged with. Even if life keeps serving you lemons there’s always a release and reward to be found from getting a bit of fresh air and exercise! In the week that the world lost the great miler, Sir Roger Bannister, it's worth taking a minute to remember the great promoters and facilitators of sport that work tirelessly, and usually for free, to enable health and success for so many others in communities all over the world.