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13 facts about Ireland’s most famous Olympian Ronnie Delany

 

Ronnie Delany-nIRELAND’S global star Conor McGregor has joined a small list of prestigious sportsmen from the Emerald Isle to feature on the front cover of renowned American magazine Sports Illustrated.

When releasing an image of the famed publication’s February 29 edition, McGregor claimed it was an honour to be the “first Irishman to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated.”

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An honour it may be, but the Dubliner is actually the fourth Irishman to feature on the front, behind Ronnie Delany, Eamonn Coughlan and Rory McIlroy in chronological order.

Here, thanks to research conducted by University College Dublin, we take a look at the illustrious life of the man who was in fact the first Irishman to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated back in 1959 – the incredible long-distance runner Ronnie Delany.

Delany was born near the town of Arklow, Co. Wicklow, on March 6, 1935 but his family moved to Sandymount in Dublin when he was six years old.

He took up an athletics scholarship to Villanova, Philadelphia, where he was trained by the legendary Jumbo Elliot, one of the greatest athletics coaches of all time.

After beginning his studies in 1954, he graduated from Villanova with a BSc in Economics.

He won the Olympic Gold medal in the 1,500 metres in Melbourne on December 1, 1956, setting a new Olympic record in the process.

In winning the Olympic gold medal, Delany defeated some of the world’s best athletes, including the hometown hero and hot favourite John Landy, the world record holder at the time.

His athletics achievements also include 40 straight indoor victories in the states from 1956 to 1959, some of which were 33 mile races.

The long distance runner finished third (time: 3:57.5) in the legendary ‘Miracle Mile’ at Dublin’s Santry Stadium in 1958, in which the first four home all broke the existing world mile record.

Indeed, Delany was the Indoor Mile World Record Holder from 1958 to 1962.

He appeared on the front of the Sports Illustrated edition dated February 2, 1959, with the sub-heading ‘Irish star on the American campus’.

Delany was Ireland’s first ever gold medallist at the World University Games after winning the 800m in 1961.

He received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree by University College Dublin at a ceremony in O’Reilly Hall, Belfield, on Dec 4, 2006.

Having been employed by Aer Lingus whilst in America, Delany returned to Dublin to work for B&I Line for almost 20 years.

He was awarded the Freedom of the City of Dublin in 2006.

Source: UCD

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Jamie Casey
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Jamie Casey is Sports Editor of The Irish Post. Follow him on Twitter @jamiecasey37

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2 comments on “13 facts about Ireland’s most famous Olympian Ronnie Delany”

  1. ned beatty

    BEFORE YOU EVEN START ON ABOUT CONNOR MC GREGGOR GET YOUR FACTS RIGHT, ronnie delaney was not the most famous irish olympian . JAMES BRENDAN CONNOLLY WAS AND STILL IS THE MOST FAMOUS IRISH OLYMPIAN.

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    • Jamie Casey

      Thanks Ned. It is open to interpretation, rather than fact, but since James Brendan Connolly was born and raised in America and competed for the USA, we won't be changing the article.

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