THE DONEGAL links to these Olympic Games just keep on coming with the 1-2 in the women’s 5,000m last night coached by a Donegal man.
Milford man Ricky Simms, the director of PACE Sports Management, is also the coach to Kenyan’s Vivian Cheruiyot and Hellen Onsando Obiri, who took gold and silver last night at the Estádio Olímpico João Havelange.
A former student of the Royal and Prior in Raphoe, Simms competed at 800m and 1,500m level and won a couple of Irish vests at U23 level.
He met Kim McDonald, Sonia O’Sullivan’s former coach, and went to work for his management company in 2000.
Not long after, McDonald died and Simms, along with his partner Marion Steininger and Duncan Gaskell took over PACE.[adrotate group=”81″]
Simms has kept up the coaching and two of his athletes are Cheruiyot and Obiri.
Almaz Ayana from Ethiopia came into the race as the raging hot favourite having won the women’s 10,000m in a new world record of 29:17.45.
However, 32-year-old Cheruiyot took the gold and set a new Olympic record of 14:26.17 to win 5,000m gold having won silver four years ago in London. Cheruiyot was the silver medal winner in the 10,000m in Rio, behind Ayana.[adrotate group=”38″]
There is a link, too, to that Olympic record. Cheruiyot broke the record set by Gabriela Szabo of Romania in Sydney, Australia in September 2000, beating Sonia O’Sullivan into second.
That was Patsy McGonagle’s first Olympic Games as the Irish Athletics Team Manager and that night remains his highlight. He said: “There was the Sonia factor and then the team didn’t perform…but Sonia pulled it out of the bag. The whole world and the whole country used to stop in those days to watch an Irish athlete perform.”
Cheruiyot competed in the Finn Valley AC’s St Stephen’s Day 5k in 2007, finishing in 16 minutes and 14 seconds.[adrotate group=”37″] Tags: