Irish Olympic History

Top Ten Interesting Facts About Irish Olympic History

Some facts and figures from Ireland’s success in the historic games
By JANE WALSH, Staff Writer

Irish Olympics
Ireland first competed in the Olympics as an Independent state in 1924. Prior to this Irish athletes competed on behalf of Britain, Canada the US and Africa. In 1908, teams styled ‘Ireland’ competed in hockey, polo and bicycle polo at the first London Olympic Games.

In 2012, there were 65 Irish athletes competing in the Summer Olympics in sports ranging from athletics, cycling, judo and sailing.

Compiled by Pierce O’Callaghan, here are some interesting facts about the Irish Olympic history from Athletics Ireland.

Irish Athletes who held Olympic Records
Irish Olympic symbol

1900 John Flanagan (Limerick/USA)Hammer 51.01m
1904 John Flanagan (Limerick/USA)Hammer 51.23m
1908 Robert Kerr (Fermanagh/CAN)200m 22.0 (Heats)
1908 Tim Ahearne (Limerick/GBI) Triple Jump 14.92m
1908 Tim Ahearne (Limerick/GBI) Triple Jump 14.72m
1908 John Flanagan (Limerick/USA)Hammer 51.92m
1912 Matt McGrath (Tipperary/USA)Hammer 54.13m
1912 Matt McGrath (Tipperary/USA)Hammer 54.74m
1912 Pat McDonald (Clare/USA) Shot Put 15.34m
1932 Bob Tisdall 400m Hurdles 52.60 (SF)
1932 Bob Tisdall 400m Hurdles 51.67 (F)*
1956 Ronnie Delany 1500m 3.41.49 (F)
1996 Sonia O’Sullivan 5000m 15:15.80 (SF)

Athletes who carried the Irish flag in the Opening Ceremony:

1924 John O’Grady
1932 Pat O’Callaghan
1960 Ronnie Delany
1964 John Lawlor
2000 Sonia O’Sullivan
2004 Niall Griffin
2008 Ciara Peelo
2012 Katie Taylor

Youngest Athletics Olympian:

2000 4x400m Relay Martina McCarthy (18 years, 338 days)

Oldest Athletics Olympian:

1912 Hammer Denis Carey (39 years, 344 days) for GBI
2008 Marathon Pauline Curley (39 years, 161 days)

Most Olympic Starts:

Sonia O’Sullivan: 13 starts
3 x 1500m starts, 2 x 3000m starts, 6 x 5000m starts, 2 x 10000m starts over 4
Olympics 1992-2004

Marcus O’Sullivan: 10 starts
2 x 800m starts, 8 x 1500m starts over 4 Olympics 1984-1996

John Treacy: 9 starts
3 x 5000m starts, 3 x 10000m starts, 3 x Marathon starts over 4 Olympics

Maeve Kyle: 8 starts
2 x 100m starts, 2 x 200m starts, 2 x 400m starts, 2 x 800m starts over 3
Olympics 1956-1964

Eamonn Coghlan: 8 starts
3 x 1500m starts, 5 x 5,000m starts over 3 Olympics 1976, 1980, 1988

Tipperary-born Thomas Kiely (1869 – 1951) 

He paid his own fare to the 1904 Summer Olympics in St Louis. Despite being offered sponsorship from Britain and the US,
he refused to compete with countries opting instead to compete for Ireland. He
won a gold medal in the decathlon but is listed as a member of the British team
in IOC records.