Saturday 16 December 2017

A second chance after pneumonia held Barry back

Mark Hilliard

AS a youngster, Barry Murphy offered a brief masterclass in the kind of sporting determination that makes champions.

With just weeks to go before qualifying trials for the 2001 Youth Olympics in Spain, the then 14-year-old swimmer was struck down with pneumonia and hospitalised for 10 days.

"But he came out and he swam like mad to qualify -- it was a matter of about a week or two after he got out of hospital," recalled his father Brian at his home in Drumcondra, Dublin.

"He had a great bunch of pals going on the team and he didn't want to miss out on this trip of a lifetime."

The young swimmers had two heats and the fastest time would be counted in their bid for qualification.

"He thought he (only) had the capacity to do one really fast swim. If Barry can do it he will do it. I know you can say that about everyone but we used to say about Barry that it was desire."

Since then the US-based swimmer has competed in senior European and World Championships and hopes his trademark determination will prove formidable in London.

He will be supported by his parents Brian and Liz and siblings Brian Jnr (24) and Daithi (21) as he pursues glory in the 100m breast stroke and 50m freestyle events.

But despite his tendency for success -- he now swims professionally for the University of Michigan after graduating from a scholarship at the University of Tennessee -- it wasn't always so simple.

"My wife still tells him about when he played football in Marino; she had to chase him around the green to get him on the bus to go training. He just wanted to play football," said Brian."

After his talent was established Barry began swimming under a Bill Cullen-sponsored program-me in DCU but disaster led to a move to America.

"The roof blew off the National Aquatic Centre and he was left high and dry. He couldn't go anywhere to train.

"Tennessee had two 50m pools side by side and we had only one with no roof."

Irish Independent

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