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Ireland’s Olympians


The Book Available soon from the RTÉ Shop

This book is for the sports fan – but also for the weekend warrior, the ambitious, the curious, for parents, coaches, managers and athletes who strive to better understand the workings of body and mind, seeking answers to questions such as… What’s the easiest gold medal to win?
Why has no white man every run under 10 seconds for the 100 metres?
Why does it take 10,000 hours to become a great athlete?
Why are most of Ireland’s best athletes living and training overseas?
What is the best age to start playing sport? What sports should a young child be playing? How young is too young to specialise?
Why do so few promising juniors go on to senior success? And why does Ireland miss so many late developers?
Why is “Talent Identification” the new “big thing” in sport?
Can the length of toes and fingers, body size, date of birth or birthplace influence a child’s ability in sport?
How do great athletes “override” mind and body, and push themselves to the limit?
How do ice baths work?
How can the GAA help develop the next generation of Olympians?
How does immigration help Irish sport?
Why does gene therapy threaten the whole future of sport?

Sportsfile, Ireland’s award-winning photo agency, provides the dazzling photographs which accompany the text.

Quotes from “Ireland’s Olympians”

“My earliest sporting memory is watching my dad coach a rowing team. I remember asking why one of them wasn’t trying… the one called the cox. So anytime I thought someone wasn’t trying, I called him a cox… Mum says I embarrassed my parents a lot as an eight-year-old.”
– Gavin Noble, Ireland’s leading triathlete

“We were training in a small town, outside Athens. We had just finished for the day. I had dropped off my coach and physio and I was driving up a small country road. I was hit by a water truck, broke my back in two places.”
– Jamie Costin, international race walker

“I felt my shoulder snap under the pressure of the water. I got swept away, couldn’t reach the bank. And I couldn’t swim with the dislocated shoulder.”
– Eoin Rheinisch, Olympic canoeist

“That adrenalin you feel before a race, that’s not just aggression, or competitive spirit – it’s fear as well. Fear of not performing, fear of mistakes, fear of world-class opponents.”
– David Gillick, European Champion.

“If a child can’t handle doing sport four days a week and doing the Leaving Cert, what are they going to do in real life?”
– Derval O’Rourke, World Champion

“In sporting terms, actually, we’re all at war against China.”
– Simon Clegg, Chief Executive of the British Olympic Association.



  1. I’ve just finished reading this book – what an insight into our own Olympians! Will now be following the Olympics with an informed idea of what is going on, who is who in regards to the athletes, and which events to follow closely! A great read for anyone, sporty or not, but also a great companion for those who will be following the the games in Beijing! Definitely comes highly recommended from me.