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Beijing Diary Number 2

And finally the plane touched down in Izumo having spent the night in an airport hotel in Tokyo. A good nights sleep and the routine of training begins calmly at first to allow for recovery and adaption to heat and humidity but thankfully the injury situation re 2 of the heavy hitters Alistair Cragg and Eileen O Keefee is much improved.

The plan for today, its 9am now, is walkers are already out training and we then head to the sea for a swim. (Picture: Patsy and Alistair) Then back for lunch and then to the track at 4-30 or the weights room dependent on individual training programmes . RTE crews due in at 6-30 and get that off the agenda asap.

Everybody relaxed no unnecessary questions as this is a familar environment having used this area in 2007 pre-Osaka. Where did that year go? We arrived here to a press conference and reception and a friendly welcome and many volunteers available to support our needs .

Its interesting to plot the journey of a sports person to this point in their career mostly similar stories began at a young age stayed with the sport began at a point to dream dreams of one day representing Ireland in the ultimate, the Olympic Games. A unique honour acheiving same and then coming to terms with that and preparing to perform so a certain pressure has to be dealt with and a controlled focus. I gather from this squad just now that we are once again in a good position. Time will tell. (Picture: The Irish swim team)

Was running through the Donegal olympians in my head earlier . Its an interesting study which in some ways reflects the different social challenges of their particular era and the limited opportunity.

Lets begin with the first ,1948 London a train journey for two Inishowen men a Ballyliffin man Patsy McGonagle who had joined the Irish Army a number of years earlier during the Emergency and was at that time a Lieutenant based in Dublin playing soccer with Bohemians. The second Inishowen man Emmet Mc Laughlin from Carndonagh a student at UCD studying medicine playing with the College. Beaten early in the competition finally by Poland back on the train to Holyhead. Both now deceased. Patsy ended his career in the army in Donegal as a Commandant and Emmet emigrated to England.

Its 1952 and Paul Dolan born in Ballyshannon is competing in the 200m out of Clonliffe Harriers as he is by then, as his family is living now in Dublin. He passed away a few years ago.

The other side of the world its 1956 Melbourne remembered of course particularly for that gold winning performance of Ronnie Delaney in 1500m and the local connection boxer Pa Sharkey from Kincasslagh was working in Australia at that time joined the team on their arrival per San Francisco by boat a long long journey. Pa has returned to his native Kincasslagh and the thought strikes me that someone out there should certainly record his memoirs.

Again in 1964 its a boxer its Tokyo its a man who now lives outside Ballybofey Brian Anderson who was in those days boxing from Middle Row ABC, London a man who won both British and Irish titles working as a stone mason now for many years .

There is a long gap then to the olympic marathon of Montreal and Munich and the emergence of a distance runner called Danny Mc Daid from Glenswilly who headed off to Dublin to work and to further improve his athletics joining Clonliffe. Similar to what many of the current crop of Irish athletes have done move to a better training environment. It worked for Danny and its working for this crew. Danny now retired from his employment as a postman in Letterkenny still retains a strong link with his sport.

And now Philip Duignan and Chloe Magee will continue the tradition here in the Far East and possibly like myself in a world many years ago when I crowded into a room with 160 students in 1960 at St Columbs College in Derry to watch the Games from Rome and will John Lawlor an Irish hammer champion on to a medal ,he finished 4th. Hopefully will inspire another generation.

And so another day begins at a training camp in Japan another day that will in time add up to the story of what will become the Beijing Olympics.

Patsy Mc Gonagle
Senior/Olympic team manager
Athletics Ireland

Post Your Comments at Patsy's Beijing Diary Weblog

Some pictures.

Group Photo at Welcome Ceremony.

Matsue Lord Mayor & Irish Team Manager Patsy McGonagle.

Matsue Press & TV crew at welcome Ceremony.

Olympic Mascot.

Patsy and Alistair at the beach.

The Irish swim team.