Where are they now?
Rosemary Ryan (Olympic athlete)
Although Olympian Rosemary Ryan lived in the countryside she was lucky enough to have Bilboa Athletic Club just a mile away from her home in Cappamore, Co Limerick. Her brothers were members of the club and when she took up the sport in secondary school, she joined too.
Initially Ryan tried her hand at all events before settling on middle and longer distances. She took to running straight away and it wasn't long before she started winning schools and national titles. After Ryan finished in St Joseph's Convent of Mercy in Doon, she enrolled at the University of Limerick and her athletics progress continued. She won four Irish universities titles outdoors, two indoors, two road relay titles and one individual cross-country title.
While in college in Limerick she accepted a sports scholarship to Boston University. She transferred to the US for the second half of her degree and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in clinical exercise physiology. After graduating, Ryan stayed on in America for a year to work and train, and she flourished in her set-up and brought her athletics career to a whole new level.
"It was great over there. When people chose to do track and field they organised their life around it, where here it wasn't the same," explains Ryan. "It's different now, but back in the day if you weren't going out or having drinks people would question you. I felt when I was in college it was only a minority who were really dedicated whereas now a lot more people are very focused on their sport."
Ryan's hard work paid off when she qualified for the Sydney Olympics in 2000, finishing eighth in her 5,000m heat. Throughout her career Ryan achieved extraordinary success: in 2001 she came fourth in the 5,000m final at the World Student Games in Beijing; the following year she was on the team that won bronze at the World Cross-Country Championships over the short course in Dublin, and in 2003 at the European Cross-Country Championships in Edinburgh, she was part of the team that took silver.
Although she has accomplished a lot Ryan hasn't finished running yet. She is back training and hopes to run the Dublin marathon in the near future. She lives in Limerick, is married to Tom Carey, and until recently worked as a sports development officer with Limerick City and County Sports Partnerships, but now works with Cerebral Palsy Sports Ireland.