Saturday 3 December 2016

Mark English in emotional tribute to his two friends he lost in Berkeley tragedy

Published 30/07/2015 | 17:02

Mark English
Mark English

Irish athlete Mark English has paid tribute to his two friends he lost in the Berkeley tragedy in June and says he may have been there on a J1 if it were not for athletics.

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Six young Irish people lost their lives while seven others were seriously injured when a balcony collapsed during a party on June 16.

Middle distance runner English, a silver medalist in the European Indoor Championships in March, wrote on Sky Sports that he would have been there only for his commitments in athletics.

"I was involved in a day of filming with Sky Sports in Dublin. The whole operation was precision personified. Everything was timed so that the crew had their job completed in time for their flight home to the UK that evening," said English.

"But there was little time to absorb the devastating news I received during filming that day of the death of two of my medical school classmates in the balcony accident in Berkeley, California.

"The accident claimed the lives of six students and leaving another seven in a critical condition. The magnitude of this tragedy caused me to stop in my tracks and think.

"Were it not for my athletics I may well have been out there myself on a J1 Visa. Less than a year ago I had shared a class holiday with Lorcan Miller (RIP) and Eimear Walsh (RIP) in Croatia. They were two of the brightest, affable and most vivacious people I had ever met."

English admits that the tragedy put things into perspective and he took time out of his busy schedule to return to Ireland to attend two of the funerals.

"Events like this put injuries and poor performances into perspective.

"I returned from the European team championships on June 23 just in time to attend the funerals of both classmates. My own worries paled into insignificance. Athletics is not life and death. In September our class will be missing two vibrant young people who never got a chance to fulfil their potential.

"In the light of all that has happened so far this summer I realise that it is important to live life to the full. To see that glass half full rather than half empty. There is still half the summer left.

"There is still time to improve on my form and set my injury straight. I will try to embrace the advice of the writer Samuel Beckett. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better."

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