At the Donegal Sports Star Awards night on Friday night, Jason Black, was the recipient of the Brendan McDaid Memorial Achievement award for being the first Donegal man to climb Mount Everest.
The Letterkenny man was given a standing ovation when he went forward to pick up his award in the Mount Errigal Hotel.
Interviewed on stage by MC Chris Ashmore, Jason told the large audience that “there was no preparation for Mount Everest.”
He spoke of the challenge and that last year 88 people had attempted the climb from the North Face with 24 making it safely, 16 killed and the rest turning back.
“To be one of the 24 was humbling. It was not like winning a race, pumping the air or beating your chest. The realisation that I was left with was the death of climbers on the mountain that you were with. It is a really special journey. It tests you to the extreme of your body. It’s a journey that will stay with me for the rest of my life.
“To take that Donegal flag to a place where it was never before. That sense of pride, for myself first of all, for my family; for my parents who installed the values of what I am. I suppose tonight we spoke about a lot of things, but we haven’t mentioned coaches. I would like to take the opportunity, as a person who spent all my life in sport, and I owe sport everything.The coaches who grace the football fields; who take young kids to athletics, they are the unsung heroes of sport and they don’t get the gratitude. We’re here tonight getting awards, but they are the real heroes.”
Black’s message to young people was to never worry about what other people think.
“In life people put hurdles in our way; they tell us we’re not good enough, not fast enough, not tall enough. Donegal is blessed. We’ve got the most brilliant talent in this county. I’m privileged to be here tonight and seeing the names that are. You have got to set your sights high. You really got to want it. Sacrifices have to be there.
“Don’t let anyone ever stand in your way. We all have an Everest in us. We’re heard people say, ‘life’s short, we’re only here for a short time’. But how many people sit down and listen to those words. Sport is the greatest education in the world. I failed every exam I ever put in front of me. But I was good at sport. I owe my life to sport and that’s why this is a wonderful celebration of sport here tonight,” said Jason Black.