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Michelle our best Olympian ever

Madam -- For years I have argued with family, friend and foe about the disgraceful treatment of Michelle De Bruin at the hands of the Irish media and public. She was, is and still remains, in the words of Senator Eamonn Coghlan, Ireland's greatest ever Olympian.

At his recent conferring at Athlone IT, he made reference to this terrible travesty, and I wholeheartedly congratulate him for doing so. Michelle never tested positive for any banned substance during her fantastic tally of three Gold and one Bronze medals during the Atlanta Olympics of 1996. This is despite the fact that she was the most tested athlete throughout that whole series of games, often done so, as was shown before her last swimming event, where she was humiliatingly stripped and tested, in front of her fellow athletes, causing her much stress and embarrassment. At that time she was the source of incredible pride and euphoria to this small island country, yet the treatment she received thereafter was nothing short of disgraceful and sickening! I had always hoped that the rationale behind her pursuing a legal career was to clear her good name. But alas, it was not to be so! All she was ever convicted of was the alleged tampering of a urine sample with neat whiskey. Strange behaviour, by any standards, particularly given what a bright, articulate and intelligent young woman she was and is, who would have been well aware of the far reaching consequences of such immature distraction. Thank you, Senator Coghlan, for finally giving this tremendous athlete her due recognition as Ireland's greatest Olympian ever. Pity, the IOC didn't recognise same, during the recent Olympic Torch procession through the Republic, a Republic to which she had brought so much pride during that summer of 1996. For many of us, thankfully, the pride still lives on. I earnestly wish for you Michelle: "Go dtiocfaidh do la go luath", and that you can find it in your heart to forgive the begrudging Irish people!

Patrick Donovan,

Dublin 7

Sunday Independent