Olympic torch bearers named

The Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) has today issued its list of 34 Olympic Torch bearers – the order is alphabetical – but a further seven names will be added shortly.

The Olympic Flame arrives in Belfast on June 3rd and will tour around the northern counties before coming south for its short symbolic visit which reflects the success of the Peace Process and the all island make-up of the Irish team for the London Olympic Games.

It will run for 70 days in the UK featuring over 8,000 torch bearers plus 41 in the Republic. Each torch bearer runs for 300 metres. The torches have a ‘kiss’ moment at each 300 metre transfer point and runners can retain their torches as souvenirs.

The event starts at Carrickarnon, outside Newry, at the Border on the old Dublin/Newry road at 6.30am. There, a short ceremony will see the symbolic handover of the Torch between Irish Olympic boxing legends Wayne McCullough (Belfast) and Michael Carruth (Dublin) to recognise the significance of the occasion. Children from schools in Newry and Dundalk will be in attendance.

A 13 vehicle convoy will then dash to Howth, Co. Dublin. Included in the convoy will be a vehicle that contains a miner’s lantern holding the original Olympic Flame from Olympia in Greece. The Flame will be lit in Olympia tomorrow (May 10) before it heads for the UK. All torches are lit from this Flame.

The President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins will greet the first Dublin torch bearer in a ceremony outside the offices of the Olympic Council in Howth at 8am in the company of school children from the area and many representatives of civic and sporting organisations.

The convoy then moves to Croke Park for a photo opportunity on the venue’s stunning Skyline Walkway, arranged by the GAA and featuring one of Irish hurling’s legendary athletes, Henry Shefflin at 8.45am. Henry then takes the first leg of the city relay, moving off from Croke Park at 9.30am.

The Torch Relay then runs around the city, taking in the Garden of Remembrance, O’Connell St. (Spire), Eden Quay, Custom House, IFSC, Sheriff St., Beckett Bridge, Holles St., Fitzwilliam Sq., Leeson St. Bridge, Grand Parade and bridges on the Grand Canal before crossing Harold’s Cross Bridge, into Clanbrassil St., Patrick St., Christchurch, Dame St., Trinity College, Nassau St., Clare St., Upper Merrion St., Ely Place, Hume St., St. Stephen’s Green – finishing at the Bandstand at 11.50am approx.

An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, will greet the Torch at Government Buildings on Upper Merron Street at 11.30am.
The final runner will light an Olympic cauldron on the Green’s Bandstand to commemorate the event. The Torch convoy will speed back North where the Relay re-commences it tour, with a celebration in Belfast at 4pm.

The location of each torch bearer’s crossover point is confidential at the moment and will be revealed some days before the event.

Pat Hickey, President of the Olympic Council of Ireland said: “The Olympic Torch Relay will bring the spirit of the London Games to Dublin and starts the countdown for the Irish team’s challenge at the world’s biggest sporting event.
“It has taken many, many months of lobbying at the highest international levels to get the permission required to bring the Relay south. All along, we have had the full support of Lord Sebastian Coe, chairman of LOCOG, the London Games organising committee, for this move”, he said.

Lord Mayor of Dublin Andrew Montague says “The Olympic Torch Relay in Dublin offers us in Dublin a wonderful opportunity to share in the London 2012 experience. On June 6th Dublin will become the only city outside of Greece and the UK to host the Olympic Flame. This is a huge honour and I call on all Dubliners to come out on the streets and cheer our torch bearers in what will be a great day for Dublin.

“Congratulations to all those chosen to be torch bearers and to all the agencies who have worked so hard to bring the Olympic Torch Relay to Dublin – The Olympic Council of Ireland, Dublin City Council, the Dept. of tourism, transport & Sport, the sponsors, An Garda Siochana, GAA, Fingal Co. Council, Dublin Bus and the British Embassy”, he added.

The Torch Relay has three Presenting Partners – Coca-Cola, Samsung and Lloyds TSB – and each can nominate torch bearers as part of their commercial arrangements with LOCOG in London

BERNARD BROGAN – 28, from Dublin, is one of the biggest names in Gaelic sport and won his first All-Ireland medal with ‘The Dubs’ last year. One of three footballing brothers for the county, he comes from a family steeped in Dublin GAA history. Bernard has won five Leinster championship medals and two All-Star awards in an expansive sporting career to date. Nominated by Samsung.

BRIAN BRUNTON – 48, from Dublin, is a member of An Garda Siochana. Brian is a keen athlete and has previously carried the torch in the Law Enforcement Torch Run for the Special Olympics in Carolina 1999, Alaska 2001, Japan 2005 and China 2007. Brian was the lead Garda organiser of the Law Enforcement Torch Run for the Special Olympics World Summer Games held in Ireland in 2003.

EDDIE BYRNE – 54, from Baldoyle, Dublin, has been competing and coaching on Dublin’s boxing scene since the 80’s. A Cadbury factory worker in Coolock, he has run a total of 27 marathons since 1983 (25 Dublin) (1 Boston) (1 Belfast) and has raised in excess of €100,000 for various local charities. He currently is a boxing coach for young and underprivileged children in the Baldoyle area.

MICHAEL CARRUTH – 44, from Dublin, is the welterweight gold medal winner (boxing) from the Barcelona Games of 1992 and the only Irish boxer to have won gold at the Olympics. Michael turned professional in 1994 and retired from the pro sport in 2000. He is a qualified fitness instructor and sports injury therapist and is now a Boxing Development Officer with Dublin City Council.

AINE NI CHOISDEALBHA – 22, is a Trinity College Dublin Scholar and was awarded a prestigious Trinity Gold Medal in 2011 for outstanding results achieved in her Psychology degree. She is now studying for an MSc in Neuroscience and her research on human perception has made an international impact. A fluent Irish speaker, Áine was also assistant editor of Icarus, Trinity College’s creative writing journal and has published poetry and campaigned for social issues affecting young women. She is also involved in the TCD’s Voluntary Tuition programme for children from disadvantaged areas of Dublin city. Nominated by Samsung.

JOHN COLLINS – 23, from Dublin, was nominated by the Pavee Point Travellers Centre to represent his community.  John has been involved in youth work with Travellers and is a role model for young Travellers.  He is a keen sportsman and a member of Eireann’s Isle GAA club. He currently represents Pavee Point on the GAA’s Inclusion & Integration Committee.  For the past two years John has been working in the area of Traveller men’s health and is dedicated to working towards improving the quality of life of his community.

NATALYA COYLE – 20, from Ashbourne, Co. Meath, is a Business, Economics and Social Studies student at Trinity College Dublin. She is currently bidding to become the first Irish woman to qualify for Ireland in the sport of Modern Pentathlon (disciplines: swimming, running, equestrian, fencing and shooting)at the  London Olympics 2012 She is a Trinity College Dublin sports scholarship recipient and has been nominated by Samsung.

RONNIE DELANY – 77, from Arklow, is Ireland’s most famous Olympian, winning the gold medal at the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne (1500m). He went on to represent Ireland in the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome (800 m). He continued his running career in North America winning four successive AAU titles in the mile and broke the world indoor mile record on three occasions. He is one of Ireland’s best sporting ambassadors and was made a Freeman of the City of Dublin in 2006.

ANNE EBBS – 71, from Drogheda, competed for Ireland in three Summer Paralympic Games and became involved in the administration of sport with the Irish Wheelchair Association. In 1987 she set up the Paralympic Council of Ireland and during her 21`years of service she worked for and campaigned tirelessly on behalf of Paralympic athletes in Ireland.  In 2008 she received the highest honour of the International Paralympic Movement when she was presented with the Paralympic Order.

KENNETH EGAN – 30, from Clondalkin, Dublin, is a light heavyweight silver medallist (boxing) from the Beijing Olympic Games 2008 and one of the most popular figures in Irish amateur boxing and in Irish sport. Kenneth’s superb boxing talent has seen him win nine Irish titles and also one gold and two bronze medals at European level. He is currently back in training, aiming for more medal success.

AARON FALLON – 16, from Ballymun, Dublin, is a talented artist and organiser who found himself co-hosting the 2011 Otherworld Festival on the main stage – the first time a young person has been given such a role. Since then Aaron has moved through the ranks of his local youth club as one of its young leaders and now sits on the BRYR Youth Panel (Ballymun Regional Youth Resource). Nominated by Coca-Cola Ireland.

IRIAL FINAN – 54, from Castlerea, Co. Roscommon, is Executive Vice President of The Coca-Cola Company, based in Atlanta, Georgia. He is one of the highest ranked Irishmen in the world of international business. A graduate of University College Galway, he is an avid GAA sporting fan. His company employs over 2,000 people in Ireland and he serves as a non-executive director for Co-operation Ireland and the NUI Galway Foundation.

KARL FLOOD – 17, from Dublin, spends his spare time working with the homeless and elderly communities in his local Simon Community branch. He is a born performer and helps organise variety shows and pantomimes to raise much needed funds for various organisations. Nominated by Coca-Cola Ireland.

JOAN FREEMAN – 54, from Dublin, is founder of Pieta House, a centre for prevention of self-harm and suicide that offers a free, professional, face to face therapeutic service TO communities nationwide.  Joan, nominated by Electric Ireland, was one the People of the Year award winners in 2011 and has several other other awards for her achievements in the area of suicide prevention.

MUBARAK HABIB – 49, from Somalia, was nominated by the Sport Against Racism in Ireland (SARI) organisation. Mubarak was chairperson of the very successful Africa Week Athletics 2011 competition aimed at raising awareness of the benefits of athletics among Ireland’s African minority groups. He is a volunteer for SARI and has been living in Ireland since 1996.

SHANE HORGAN – 34, from Bellewstown, Co. Meath recently retired through injury from rugby football following a superb career as a centre and winger that included 65 caps for Ireland, being part of three Triple Crown winning sides and gaining a British and Irish Lions tour spot.  Now a media pundit, he is one of the most popular figures in Irish sport and a legend in Leinster rugby, where he racked up 207 caps for his province including a European Cup victory.

JEDWARD – aged 20, from Dublin. John and Edward Grimes are identical twins and are widely known for their blonde quiffs. The twins first appeared as John & Edward on The X Factor 2009, generating a phenomenon described as “the Jedward Paradox”. Both young men have competed very successfully in schools athletics and recently completed the Los Angeles marathon. They represented Ireland at the Eurovision Song Contest 2011 and will do so again in 2012.

GER KEELAN – 15, from Westmeath, was 10 when he was named Young Person of the Year in 2007 after his father lost his arm in a farming accident on the family farm. Ger attended his father while waiting for paramedics to arrive and was awarded for his calmness, braver and presence of mind, when so many others would have panicked. He saved his father’s life, all the more remarkable given his young age. Nominated by Coca-Cola Ireland.

MARK KENNEALLY – 31, from Celbridge, Co. Kildare, achieved the marathon qualifying time for the London 2012 Games in October last having previously represented Ireland at European and World Cross Country championships. Mark started his athletics career with Raheny Shamrocks AC and is now a member of Clonliffe Harriers AC.  He has successfully balanced both sport and scholarship while studying initially for a BSc in Physiotherapy and currently as a PhD student in Physiology in Trinity College Dublin. He is the reigning National Senior 10,000m champion and Ireland’s only male challenger in the marathon in London. Nominated by Samsung.

LEE KINSELLA – 19, from Wicklow, is a volunteer in the WAY Project, inspiring youths to follow his path and move away from being involved in criminal and anti-social behaviour. He has also played an instrumental role in a project for the Rathnew Legends organisation (finalists in the Foroige Youth Citizenship Awards 2011), concentrating on opening up the world of technology for older citizens in the area. Nominated by Coca-Cola Ireland.

CILLIAN KIRWAN – 15, from Dublin, is a pupil at St. Fintan’s High School, Sutton and has been nominated by Fingal County Council. He is a fourth  year student who plays U16 Gaelic football and hurling and also represents his school in cross country and track & field athletic events, both regional and national. Cillian is a natural leader and role model for all students in the school, especially those involved in sport.

LAUREN LAWLESS – 16, from Dublin, divides her time between volunteering at the Localise Community Service Project with school and sport. She is involved with her Larkin Community College student council, helping students with a project called ‘Face of Homelessness’. She also trains girls’ soccer and Gaelic football at primary school level and has raised funds for the past four years for Our Lady’s Crumlin Hospital. Nominated by Coca-Cola Ireland.

ROBBIE LYONS – 18, from The Swan, Co. Laois, has had a rare condition from childhood. He received a kidney transplant in 2009 and joined the Irish Kidney Association’s ‘Transplant Team Ireland’ in 2010. Since then he has represented his country at the World Transplant Games in Gothenburg, Sweden, winning two silver and one gold medal. Nominated by Coca-Cola Ireland.

WAYNE ‘POCKET ROCKET’ Mc CULLOUGH – 42, from Belfast, is a silver medallist (boxing) from the Barcelona Games of 1992. He also won gold at the 1990 Commonwealth Games. In his amazing amateur career, he scored over 100 knockouts. Wayne turned professional in the USA and was the WBC world bantamweight champion in 1993. He has stood toe-to-toe with 11 world professional champions and now works as a TV pundit in the USA, also writing for Sky Sports and contributing to online boxing sites around the globe.

PAUL McGRATH – 53, from Dublin, will go down in the history of Irish football as one of the best players ever to wear the green jersey.  Paul started his career at St. Patrick’s Athletic and then moved to England, enjoying successful spells with Manchester United, Aston Villa, Derby County and Sheffield United.  Paul won 83 caps for Ireland, scoring eight goals. He played at Euro 88, World Cup 94 and World Cup 98. He was responsible for one of the all-time great football defensive displays during the Republic of Ireland’s victory over Italy in the USA.

ALVA NOLAN – 20, from South Dublin, has been a Special Olympics volunteer since 2007 and referees and coaches athletes in the Blackrock Flyers Special Olympics club. She is now a qualified match official and dedicates her spare time to officiating at Special Olympic competitions regionally as well as organising fundraising events for Special Olympics Ireland. Nominated by Coca-Cola Ireland.

GARY O’BRIEN – 24, from Portmarnock, Dublin, is a Special Olympics Ireland nominee and represented Ireland at the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games, winning a silver medal in the 400 metres.  Gary is a big lover of sport; he plays basketball and football as well as athletics. Gary was the winner of the Fingal Independent Young Sport Star of the Year 2011.

SONIA O’SULLIVAN – 42, from Cobh, Co. Cork will be Chef de Mission (manager) of Ireland’s Olympic team at the London Games 2012. Sonia is silver medallist (5000m) from the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games and is Ireland’s most famous women’s middle distance runner. She previously competed in Barcelona Games 1992, Atlanta Games 1996 and the Athens Games 2004. Sonia won 5,000m gold at the world championships of 1995, plus three European championship gold medals. She was also three times the world cross country champion – a marvelous athlete and an iconic figure in Irish sport.

OLIVIA O’TOOLE – 40, from Sheriff Street, Dublin, was nominated by Dublin City Council. She has won over 130 caps with Ireland’s women international soccer team and was the Irish captain. Olivia has scored more goals for Ireland than Robbie Keane – a record 54. She is employed at Sheriff Street Recreation Centre as a Play & Recreation worker for Dublin City Council and also trains the Sheriff St. Youth Club football team – continuing the strong soccer tradition in the Inner City.

MARK POLLOCK – 36, from Hollywood, Co. Down is a double medallist in rowing in the Commonwealth Games and is unbroken by the loss of his sight at 22 and a paralysing fall 13 years later. A Trinity College Dublin graduate, Mark has competed against professional explorers like Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Olympic gold medalists and special forces personnel; all able-bodied athletes For the last decade, the blind adventure athlete has run a marathon at The North Pole, raced through the desert lowlands of the Syrian African Rift Valley to the Dead Sea and competed at high-altitude in the Everest Marathon. After a life threatening fall last year, Mark is paralysed from the waist down. Nominated by Samsung.

NIAMH REID-BURKE – 21, from Dublin, is a second year student on the Sports Management & Coaching course at Blanchardstown Institute of Technology. From the age of 12 she has been a member of the National Aquatic Centre’s Spring and Platform Diving Team and represented Ireland at international events on four occasions. Niamh also plays soccer and received her first cap for Ireland when she was 14. She has 36 under age caps and has been on the FAI Ladies Senior International panel for the last two years.

HENRY SHEFFLIN – 33, from Kilkenny, is one of the most famous hurlers of this or any other era. A former All-Ireland winning captain, he has won no fewer than eight Liam MacCarthy Cups with his native Kilkenny and has also played a starring role in Club All-Ireland success with his home team Ballyhale Shamrocks. A prolific scorer from both dead balls and open play, he has battled back from career threatening injuries on two occasions and is the record holder for All-Star awards with a total of 10.

TONY SUTHERLAND – from Navan, Co. Meath is representing his late son Darren Sutherland, a bronze medalist in boxing at the Beijing Olympic Games. Darren represented St. Saviour’s Boxing Club in Dublin and won the Leinster senior title in 2005, 2006 and 2007. He also won gold medals in 2007 and 2008 at the EU Amateur Championships. Darren died tragically in September 2009 in London. His dad Tony, a driving instructor, has a long history of involvement in amateur boxing and has been nominated by Kia Motors Ireland.

JOHN TREACY – 56, from Villierstown, Co. Waterford, is the silver medallist (marathon) from the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games. A legendary figure in Irish athletics, John represented Ireland at four Olympic Games between 1980 and 1992 and twice was the world cross country champion (‘78/’79). He retired from competitive running in 1995 and is currently Chief Executive of the Irish Sports Council.

So who in your opinion should the other seven be when the names are released?   Remember they do not have to be competitors in  either Olympics or Paralympics but no politicians or members of the O.C.I

Should “Jedward” have been included?     Will Katie Taylor be on the final list once the Olympic qualifier is over ?  Remember too that  with sports like Soccer and Rugby key Irish sports stars who otherwise would have been considered will be ‘out of the country’

Your thoughts welcome by email to info@sportsnewsireland.com