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OLYMPICS Waterford at the Olympics


The Olympic Games have been around for thousands of years and are called the Greatest Show on Earth. Over the years many athletes with Waterford connections have represented their country at the Olympics, from Peter O Connor who scaled the flagpole to protest at the Union Jack being flown when he won a medal in 1906 to the incredible silver medal win by the “little man with the big heart” in 1984. This month My Waterford talks to three Waterford men who have lived the Olympic experience and we also chat to hopeful Thomas Barr as he heads to Rio for his first Olympic Games, following in the footsteps of his big sister Jessie who did the same 4 years ago.....


Ciaran Power


“It’s the kind of thing that you would want to do twice and luckily enough I have done it twice.”


O


lympic Cyclist Ciaran Power is to this day the highest placed Irish Cyclist at any Olympics (he came 13th in the road race in 2004). Now working as a physiotherapist with a business on


O Connell street in the city, he still has a keen interest in cycling and recently took part in the Ras, for the first time not as a professional. He says he enjoys watching the Olympics and will be following the Waterford athletes in Rio. He has this advice for Thomas Barr and Seamus Power. “We are sending 2 fantastic athletes. They are very focused and I


think we will see a lot from them in the future. I think they will gain a lot from the experience. It’s such a buzz, you are watching all sorts of people there from 7 foot basketball players to 3 foot gymnasts. It’s just a great experience and you are so in the zone when you are there that you don’t really get to experience it because all you are thinking about is yourself. So my advice is to go out there and enjoy it and do your best. There is a lot of pressure on Irish athletes going out there. We are a small nation and everybody is looking at you but you can only go out there and do the best that you can do. No one can ask for more than you going out and doing your best. And hopefully something comes of your best.” Power travelled to his first Olympics in Sydney in 2000 and 4 years


later he was lucky enough to attend the Olympics in its home place of Athens. “The first time I went there I was a professional athlete and I had just come off a professional programme so I didn’t really get time to


P Peter O’Connor


eter O’Connor was an Irish track and field athlete who lived and worked as a solicitor in Waterford following his retirement from


the sport. He represented Ireland at the Olympics in 1906 however


because Ireland did not have a National Olympic Committee he was registered as a British participant. When he won silver in the long jump the Union Flag was raised as


he stood on the podium. He was not happy about this and famously scaled the flagpole in the middle of the Olympic stadium waving an Irish flag. He lived in Waterford and was a founding member of the Waterford Athletic Club. He died in 1957.


24 WATERFORD


focus on the Olympics. The second time though I took time out and my sole purpose was the Olympics. So I think they will gain a lot from it and they will see where they need to gain strength. Even seeing the other athletes and how they are so single minded and they don’t give a s*** what the other athletes are doing you get stronger and you learn what you have to change. So it should be good to see how they get on in the future.”


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