where are they now?
Published 19/12/2010 | 05:00
(Former Irish athlete)
It'S 45 years since Danny McDaid embarked on his athletic career at the age of 24 and was seen as something of a late bloomer. But starting that bit later in life didn't affect his overall success.
He competed in nine World Championships and was captain of the Irish Senior Cross-Country team from 1975 to 1981. He ran in the marathon at two Olympic Games, Munich 1972 and Montreal 1976, and was the first Irishman to cross the finish line at the '72 games.
When John Treacy won gold at the World Cross-Country in 1979 in Limerick, he finished 11th and the Irish team came second.
"Making the Olympics twice and getting a silver medal in the World Cross-Country championships were the highlights of my career," says the Donegal man. "It was an amazing experience, living in the Olympic village for a month, eating and sleeping there. It's hard to appreciate it at the time, it's when I look back it hits home what a big deal it was. When I go to functions and I hear my name called out as a double Olympian, it's strange.
"I loved running, the training was hard but it was something everyone was doing. I didn't look it as any great sacrifice. I trained really hard. I ran an average of 100 miles a week then when I was running a marathon, I was running 160 miles a week."
Away from running, McDaid worked as a postman, from which he retired five years ago. He never lost his love for athletics and is still involved at local level in his native Donegal.
And last week he was in Portugal at the European Cross-Country Championships to witness the Ireland under 23 team winning the gold.
"We were all a bit surprised that they did so well. We expected the team to medal alright but gold was a bit of a shock. There is massive competition across Europe and the standard is very high.
"It takes a big effort to win gold; we left a lot of class runners behind us from big athletic countries like Germany and Russia. It's excellent; it's so good for the future. At this age they have come through the hard patch between juvenile and junior. I'm delighted to see them move close to senior; in another few years these lads could be competing at senior and there is no doubt that they could be a force."