Thursday 22 March 2018

The magic of Olympic glory still a powerful pull for Ireland

Los Angeles. Sunday, August 12, 1984. Jimmy Magee is on duty for RTE as John Treacy competes in the men's marathon.

As the epic race reaches its concluding act, an exhausted Treacy is trying to overtake Britain's Charlie Spedding to finish second behind the Portuguese, Carlos Lopes.

As the tears flow and all of Ireland wills Treacy home on the last, excruciating lap of the Coliseum track, Magee cries: "An Olympic medal goes to John Treacy from Villierstown in Waterford; the little man with the big heart!"

One of Irish life's memorable sporting moments and, of course, there have been others: Ronnie Delany's 1956 gold medal win in Melbourne is still considered the greatest of them all.

The roll call of glory, triumph and tragedy also includes Bob Tisdall, Sonia O'Sullivan, Darren Sutherland, Kenny Egan, Michael Carruth and Wayne McCullough.

Their names will never be forgotten.

For others, the four-time Olympic gold medal winner Michelle Smith's exploits in Atlanta in 1996 still stand the test of time, though her critics will always claim the wins are tarnished.

The Olympics have provided a rich stream of extraordinary stories and in this edition of Rolling Back The Years, we bring you some of the best alongside some truly remarkable photographs from the Irish Independent's rich archive.

We explore the Nazi obsession with our renowned 1930s hammer throwers and speak to Declan Hegarty, a Florida-based surgeon who still holds the Irish record in that discipline.

One of the country's most celebrated artists -- Jack Butler Yeats (right) -- was also an Olympic medal winner, in 1924. Learn how his work Liffey Swim earned him an unlikely silver in Paris.

This magazine would not be complete without the memories of former staff including Tom O'Riordan, the long-time athletics correspondent of the Irish Independent, and senior sports writer Sean Diffley.

Catch up with their memories on page 24, including an account of Tom's time as an Irish Olympian in Tokyo in 1964.

After all these years, the Olympics still retains the capacity to enthrall and delight and we sincerely hope you enjoy this latest slice of nostalgia.

Irish Independent Supplement

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport