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Olympian Ronnie a real golden oldie

Ireland's oldest Olympian is "honoured" to be named ambassador for the Friends of the Elderly organisation.

Irishman Ronnie Delaney (79), who won gold at the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games, is getting behind the charity to raise awareness for the elderly who are lonely this Christmas.

Mr Delaney (inset) said it was great to become a primary figure in the campaign, and expressed his delight at picking up the torch from the late Maeve Binchy.

"It's a nice analogy to say I'm picking up the torch from Maeve, an old friend of mine" he said.

"It's nice to support a charity like Friends of the Elderly and to help those who aren't as fortunate, those that are lonely and who want that void of loneliness to be filled by a neighbour or a visitor" Mr Delany added.

The Olympian also described how making someone feel loved this Christmas is so "simple", and that all it takes is for someone to show interest.

"I'm not saying be invasive or anything like that, but people should notice the little things" Delany explained.

"I think in today's society it's a lot less intimate, and people might keep to themselves in this regard.

"All it takes is for one person to start an initiative like this, and people will normally follow suit," Ronnie added.

As well as winning gold in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, Mr Delaney also won a bronze medal in the 1500 metres event at the 1958 European Athletics Championship in Stockholm.

His friend, author Maeve Binchy, was the charity's ambassador for three years until her passing in 2012, and communications officer Dermot Kirwan acknowledged the pivotal role she played in raising awareness for the charity.

"Maeve did great work for our organisation, and was a great ambassador for Friends of the Elderly," he added.