‘The Father, the Son and the Holy Coach’

Mallow-born athletics coach Br. Colm O’Connell will feature in a BBC Four Television documentary next Tuesday, 22nd July, at 10pm. The popular Brother, a past pupil of St Patrick’s National school and the Patrician Academy, is one of the featured characters in ‘100 Seconds to Beat the World’, a documentary which looks at the achievements of Kenyan 800 metre Olympic champion David Rudisha, and the part which Br. Colm played in his amazing world-record shattering win in the London Olympics in 2012.

Subtitled ‘The Father, Son and Holy Coach’, the documentary shows a teenage David Rudisha from his arrival in St Patrick’s School, Iten, Kenya, at the tender age of 16, where he joined Br. Colm’s training camp and over the years developed into a world-beating athlete. The film chronicles the ups and downs of David Rudisha’s journey, from the disappointment of missing the Beijing Olympics through injury to the joy of winning gold in London four years later.

Br. Colm has been a legendary coach for many years, despite having little or no background in coaching when he first arrived in Kenya in 1976. Since those early years, though having only very basic training facilities, the likeable Brother has coached 20 Olympic medallists, among them the great Sonny Rono, but these great wins have been overshadowed by the achievements of David Rudisha, who became world junior and senior champion in the 800 metres, and smashed the world record in London two years ago with a time of 1 minute 40 seconds.

Since winning in London, David Rudisha has visited Mallow twice in the company of Br. Colm, and both received a huge reception when they visited local schools. Next Tuesday’s documentary at 10pm on BBC Four is a must for anyone who knows the likeable and modest Br. Colm, who has taken the athletics coaching world by storm.