It was 56 years ago in Melbourne when former Villanova NCAA champion Ronnie Delany took the 1500 meter gold medal, and he's been a fixture in Irish athletics ever since. He recently appeared at the opening of an Irish Olympic exhibition and encouraged the 2012 crop of Irish Olympians:
“I don’t presume to advise contemporary Olympians. They are very well managed, the team is very well prepared. If I was to give advice, and I don’t go out of my way to give advice, I would say two things.
“The preliminary round is the critical one. If you don’t get through the preliminary round, you won’t be in the final. Make sure you qualify. You can have this great aspiration of winning and wanting to do well, but if you don’t get through the first round you’ve had it.
“The second thing is don’t be distracted. Focus on what your job is because this is close to a home Olympics. We won’t be caught up in the euphoria of Beijing or Sydney. You’re in your home environment. They must concentrate and focus, don’t notice or hear the crowd, be so concentrated and so committed to your job.”
"There’s sort of a good luck omen for her. Her mother is called Bridget, my mother was called Bridget. I’m from Wicklow, she’s from Wicklow. So, please God, that has some sort of good omen for her this year.
“I always thought we should do better in sailing and we have a lot of people qualified in sailing this year. Boxing we’re going to do well in. Minority sports, they’re the ones we can do a springer in. Our equestrians, our swimmers.
“Watch the Irish taking part and competing for our country.”