Olympic hero Delany says we don't have obesity problem
IRISH Olympic champion Ronnie Delany has said he does not believe Ireland has a severe obesity problem, despite the publication of statistics that suggest otherwise.
In an interview with independent.ie, the renowned athlete said he believes young people can be “extremely fit” despite their appearances suggesting they are overweight.
“I wouldn’t be a great supporter of the concept of the Irish being obese. Now, the stats may tell me differently. I have 15 grandchildren, they’re not obese,” Mr Delany (80) said.
“There are all sorts of different body shapes. If you’re big. If you’re a young lady and you happen to be 11 stone, you might be tagged with being obese. I don’t think (this is the case). I think there is a natural body mass, a natural body shape, and you can be extremely fit while you mightn’t look fit,” he added.
Mr Delany, who won gold in the 1500 metres event in Melbourne in 1956, said he is not in favour of the concept of screening children for obesity in schools.
He said children are living in a “new world” and should not necessarily be pushed into sport . They should also consider arts, education and music, according to the Arklow-born athlete.
“Get out and fulfil your lives and you can fulfil your lives in so many different ways,” he said.
Mr Delany made the remarks after appearing as leader and guest of honour at the annual 1848 famine walk in the small parish of Ballingarry, Co Tipperary. In his keynote address, he spoke about the “heartbreaking” impact that emigration has had on towns and villages throughout Ireland.
The adjoining village of The Commons was the home town of Irish athlete John Joe Barry, who was known as the “Ballincurry hare”. Ballincurry was the location where Mr Barry trained.
Mr Delany said his sporting era is remembered for “fellowship” and “camaraderie”, while sport today is extremely commercialised.
The Arklow-born athlete-turned businessman said he would be a “multi-multi millionaire” if he was an Olympian today.
Asked about the success of amateur golfer Paul Dunne in the British Open, Mr Delany said he wasn’t allowed to even accept a pair of shoes during his amateur career.
As a result, he said he was forced to “terminate” his career at age 26 and pursue business interests.
“I was a very young man, I was only 26. But you’ve got to remember, that there was no money in sport then. There was no commercialisation. I was an amateur. I remained an amateur all my life. But I couldn’t accept money for appearances. I couldn’t even accept free shoes. No one has any concept of that, so really I had to get on, I wasn’t going to make millions because I was a great athlete, I had to get on and make a career in business and that’s because I retired at 26.”
Mr Delany added:
“In my era there was probably more fellowship. And in this era , and it’s appropriate to the era, it’s much more commercial. Its not amateur. The amateur golfer (Paul Dunne) will probably be turning professional, congratulations to Paul...With his achievement, he’ll immediately earn substantial monies, he’ll probably turn pro and I wish him well.”