Thursday 18 July 2019

After a good run, it's back to the books for aspiring doctor Paul

Caroline Crawford

IT'S back to the books for the Irish sprinter who bowed out of the Olympics yesterday after failing to qualify from his heat.

Paul Hession, from Athenry, Co Galway, had put his medical studies on hold while he trained to fulfil his Olympic dream.

Sadly it ended yesterday after just 21 seconds, when the 29-year-old failed to make it through the first heat of the 200m race.

And while there was disappointment among his friends and family, they said Paul will receive a hero's welcome back to Athenry.

His family are planning to hold a massive celebration to welcome the Galway man home next week.

His cousin Peter McDonagh said Paul had been completely dedicated to his training, even putting his medical studies in NUI Galway on hold.

"He's training to be a doctor and he'll be back in college in a couple of weeks time. He took time off for his training but he was planning on going back no matter what," said Peter.

A total of 12 family members, including his parents Geraldine and Owen, sisters Emer and Karen, and several relatives from the US, travelled to London to cheer him on. And those left at home were also flying the flag for the sprinter.

His aunt Mary O'Connor, from Dingle, Co Kerry, watched the race from the Hession family home along with her daughters Sinead (8) and Aisling (9), Paul's uncle Michael Flatherty and his son Oisin (7).

"We were uber excited and we are extremely proud of Paul," said Mary.

And no outcome could dampen the pride they have in the athlete.

Michael said: "He'll be disappointed in himself because he knows he has a bit more in him but it's all down to the race on the day.

"We'll have a big family celebration for him when he gets back next week."

Anthony recalled how Paul's first sports were hurling and rugby.

"His father was a good runner and Paul always went with him to all the races," he said.

Paul's speed on the track is no surprise to family and friends, who insist it's all in the genes.

"His grandmother would have loved sprinting. She was a very good runner. She was very proud of Paul, he was the oldest grandchild," said Mary.

"I remember when he was real small and his mom would be coming home from work and he would race out to meet her, he was always racing," she added.

Irish Independent

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