Sunday 22 April 2018

Whipped into frenzy of apathy towards Olympics 2012

Graham Clifford

"Great news about the swimmers," I remarked yesterday evening as I met two Irish construction workers on a London bus.

The pair Simon Collins (24) from Galway city and Aidan Donaghy (25) from Tyrone looked back at me in bewilderment.

I go on to explain that I'm referring to the qualification of Irish swimmers Sycerika McMahon and Melanie Nocher who reached London 2012 with outstanding performances in the pool in Debrecen, Hungary the day before.

The pair had never heard of either lady.

Slightly red-faced, I say well at least you must have heard of Katie Taylor, the world champion boxer? Aidan shakes his head but Simon admits her name rings a bell.

The scene is all the more bizarre as just before I get off the bus Aidan admits he worked at the Olympic park a few months back.

Surprised by the apathy of these two young men to our Olympic hopefuls I pop into the Crown in Cricklewood to see if Simon and Aidan are typical of young Irish people living in London today. Surely most are following the progress of our Olympians?

"I'm not bothered about it really," says 26-year-old nurse Lorraine Flynn from Wexford town. "I don't get to see much TV as it is and I won't be waiting around to see yet another Irish runner pull up early. To be honest even if that boxer won (Katie Taylor) I really couldn't care less," she says.

I seek refuge at a corner table where two young suited-and-booted Irishmen are flicking through the sports pages.

At last, I think to myself, here are two young business types from home who are surely expecting big things from the Irish competitors in London.

Less than five minutes later I've established that brothers Cian and Cillian Bourke from Dublin can name just three qualified Irish athletes between them, Katie Taylor, Derval O'Rourke and Paul Hession.

To date 52 Irish competitors have made it through to this summer's games, but it remains to be seen if the Irish in London will get behind our representatives.

The days of building your week around a Sonia O'Sullivan run on TV appear to be long gone -- with the games just 64 days away, a disconcerting veil of apathy appears to be fluttering over the host city's Irish community.

Irish Independent

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