Monday, December 14, 2009

The First Irishman to tell Jumbo "No, Thanks"

Eamonn Coghlan's recent book Chairman of the Boards, Master of the Mile relates the story of Jumbo Elliott's failed attempt to recruit John Treacy to Villanova. According to Coghlan, despite the existence of the Irish Pipeline dating back for two decades or more, prior to 1974 Jumbo had never traveled to Ireland and, aside from Carl Lewis in New Jersey, had never traveled to recruit a runner in person (usually leaving the recruiting to Jack Pyrah). Since he had been invited to speak to the Olympic Council in Dublin, Jumbo decided to seek out Treacy and offer him a scholarship to run at Villanova. When Treacy turned Jumbo down and accepted a scholarship to Providence College, he became the first Irishman to turn down an offer to compete at Villanova. Treacy went on to greatness at Providence and on the world scene. His younger brother Ray followed John to Providence a few years later and became the team's track and cross country coach.

John Treacy's greatest moments, including a 1984 Olympic silver medal in the marathon and two World Cross Country golds, are listed below:
5000 meters: 13:28.89 (Rome, 1987)
10,000 meters: 27:48.7 (Brussels, 1980)
10K: 27:46 (Phoenix, 1985)
Half-Marathon: 1:02:22 (Nara, Japan, 1988)
Marathon: 2:09:15 (Boston, 1988)

Greatest Hits:

Silver Medal, Marathon (2:09:56), 1984 Olympic Games (Los Angeles)
Gold Medal, 1978 World Cross Country Championships (Glasgow)
Gold Medal, 1979 World Cross Country Championships (Limerick)
5th Place, 1985 World Cross Country Championships (Lisbon)
Brone Medal, 1974 World Junior Cross Country Championships (Monza)
Bronze Medal, 1975 World Junior Cross Country Championships (Rabat)
3rd Place, 1988 Boston Marathon (2:09:15)
3rd Place, 1989 Boston Marathon (2:10:24)

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