We are in the final days of Rio 2016 here and I gotta say it went in pretty fast and before we know it we will be touching down Wednesday in Dublin.
Today (Friday) it was the excitement of Robert Heffernan pushing for a medal in the 50k and whether Brendan Boyce the Milford man in his second Olympics could get top 16/20; Rob did drive for that medal but it wasn't to be but a brave effort all the same 6th, 3rd of course in London and amongst the many words afterwards the message is - the Cork man is alive and well and will be back certainly for world champs.
in London 2017 as will our Donegal man 18th out on his ear after the line was crossed but that's exactly as it should be. That's why I love these walking guys they train so hard compete so strongly and back to it again never ever ever give up.
The previous day a young lad from Waterford Thomas Barr gave us a run for our money as the saying goes, 4th new national record and a classy time of 47.97. We wrap it up Sunday with 3 marathon runners in an environment that has once again been dominated by the big lad from Jamaica Usain. His 3rd Olympics to dominate begging the question in global sport perspective is he in the Pele, Muhammed Ali legendary status. I guess he is.
What of Rio on a day my 'phone is stolen. Well they responded extremely well put their shoulder to the wheel to deliver but attendances not of Olympian expectations; yes facilities excellent while transport in a difficult crowded place were difficult but staying calm and we got there.
Journalists complained quite a lot re this aspect but I have no doubt that Tokyo in 2020 will be well ahead of the game and hopefully save the brand that is the Olympic Games as we came her to a backdrop of negativity re drugs and Zika particularly so the challenge is huge for the Olympic movement.
We had our troubles in the camp which have been well documented and which we the athletics team steered well clear of the result our best games ever on my shift; my best Games ever, it does sound good but we need to move to higher expectations. Therein lies a serious debate about the culture of sport in Ireland. I have a thing when people say back home when my athletes at Finn Valley do well ´´Well Patsy are you happy". My answer invariably somehow get the message through that I can never be happy as everything can be improved. ´ I know it sounds so mad but it also keep the team on their toes privately of course you are happy.
The Olympics is that ultimate for athletes, coaches, etc; being an Olympian is in itself a big deal. Indeed it is the absolute deal and then arriving in the environment creating the team ethos amongst all that will be helpful to delivering what will be individual performances is the all important outcome you hope. We did that, support staff and athletes together and can build and provide so much inspiration to the younger athletes that wish and have the desire to improve and make their dreams happen.
In our world in Donegal we have proved that we can produce from a young age with direction, encouragement, leadership, opportunity, support and backing that with a 'gotta believe no nonsense approach' coupled with talent and hard work the Olympic dream can become a reality.
Take our representatives in recent times in cycling, boxing athletics, rowing, badminton; the tough determined kids are there. Sure it can be lonely in a culture dominated by Gaelic games, rugby and soccer, the major team games and your resolve will be tested. At many points along the journey you may feel rightly that nobody cares but its about you, you care; the child is checking in on your enthusiasm, simply don't let them down .
Donegal, the community in which we live, is a place where we share our stories week in week out through media locally or social media so basically many people are watching and we are fortunate in that regard. It is important that we learn to live in the real world when accessing performances and outcomes; what I mean is educate the child, the teenager calmly to figure out what indeed is a good performance as I have observed particularly on social media a lot of LIKES for mediocrity of course like as an encouragement but not as the ultimate goal. How did I get on to that; well probably I have found that's its best to gradually encourage, keep it cool and develop progress steady.
We will hit the runway at Dublin Airport, hit the road for Ballybofey, glad to have once again had the energy and health to deliver my kind of leadership in this world, proud of my team, really proud but moving on; get the athletes back on deck at Finn Valley AC, continue to educate and develop. Indeed seek the help of the primary schools that's working well, the secondary section not as well, this sport needs support and encouragement in the secondary sector and the recent response to the cross country invitation 'come and try it day' attracted 27 secondary schools from the region in 2015.
Invitations are on the way once again for the primary and secondary schools cross country in the grounds of Finn Valley late September; looking forward to that and looking forward to seeing more young Donegal children in the years ahead grow, fulfill dreams instilled in them by switched on parents and coaches as they strive to get on this stage.
My thanks to you for allowing me briefly share my thoughts as I went along; would have liked to do more blogs but got seriously busy and time didn't allow. My journey since leaving school and returning to my local community has been so exciting I have shared it with some great people; as the saying goes they know who they are and my family who stuck with a man who was particularly driven to do what many felt wasn't possible.
Best wishes to you all.