Tuesday 20 March 2018

Irish physical therapist making name with elite Olympic athletes

Ciarán McDonagh with Nigeria's Blessing Okagbare
Ciarán McDonagh with Nigeria's Blessing Okagbare

Ryan Nugent

Ireland's track and field athletes may not make it to the final stages in Rio - but a former Irish long jump champion looks set to be there until the end.

Having worked as a physical therapist with the Jamaican sprinters in London 2012, Ciarán McDonagh knows Usain Bolt and Asafa Powell on a first-name basis.

McDonagh is now in Brazil, working his magic on Nigerian hopeful Blessing Okagbare, who narrowly missed out on the women's 100 metres sprint final but still has the 200 metres and long jump to come.

McDonagh, from Athboy, Co. Meath runs his own practice in Templeogue, Dublin but his work with the likes of US decathlete record holder Ashton Eaton has eclipsed his own distinguished athletics career.

His trip to Rio was almost in jeopardy and he initially had to turn down the offer because of other commitments.

He said: "Luckily enough, I was able to sort things out and get over, it's hard to turn down," adding: "Still, it's great to be asked."

Having already worked at London 2012, he doesn't feel any additional pressure in his work this time around.

"I was working with the whole team in 2012. I did a little bit with him (Bolt) - but he had his whole entourage.

"If he was stuck, he would come over to me. I did a good bit with Asafa.

"It was a bit surreal (working with Bolt) but you're there to do a job," McDonagh added.

Given his expertise in his field, it is perhaps surprising that Team Ireland has not come calling.

However, McDonagh sees it differently.

"Sometimes you never prosper in your own land. I work outside the system and like doing my own stuff," he said.

Irish Independent

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