Another Olympian from the south east to go to China is Thomas Chamney, from Clonmel, who is competing in the 800 metres in Beijing on Wednesday, 20th August in the Birds nest stadium.
Prior to departing for China Josephine Chamney spoke to the Munster Express from Clonmel. This will be her first time in China, she was looking forward to it immensely. She felt justly proud that she was the mother of an Olympian, with Clonmel having lots of flags and bunting. A special party was held in Eldons pub for him, where he did interviews and questions from the floor.
Thomas has a very strong background and received a five year scholarship to the Notre Dame University in the United States.
The Notre Dame University is well known for American football and can fill 50,000 seats for college football. It has also has great running teams and has fantastic sporting facilities.
Located about 2 hours drive south of Chicago it is part of the American Irishman’s dream to have a son or daughter going there. It is just below the Ivy League in terms of standard and has fees to match of over 30,000 US dollars for tuition alone, so a scholarship is very welcome.
Thomas studied business there then film before completing a degree in English literature. He also was in the top 8 in the USA for the National Academic All American grade, where academic scores count with sports achievements in this he got to the final of the 800 metres,
Notre Dame has a special affinity with Ireland even though founded by French religious in the 19th century near South Bend, Indiana.
Thomas benefited from his time there and made himself a goal of qualifying for Beijing. He did some training in Spain as preparation then moved to Florida in January to work with his coach Sean McManus formerly of Notre Dame. Florida would be more hot humid and resemble the conditions in China. At Tallahassee there, he trained with strong equivalent athletes.
Finance is not easy and the family wish to thank the Sports Council of Ireland for grants and Club Energise of Clonmel for sponsorship.
After they check in at Beijing they intend to fly onto Menzu Japan, away from the pollution and train in cleaner surroundings, then it is back to Beijing for the Heats and hopefully qualification for the semi finals in the 800 metres, 4 days before the event.
He is one of three Irish athletes that qualified under the B standard criteria that was accepted by the Olympic Council of Ireland. He won the national title recently but suffered from illness earlier in the summer. Mother Josephine recalls how he started running on the beach in Ring, Co. Waterford when he did Irish school there in 6th class, he also hurled there.
Earlier he was in St Marys Primary School, Clonmel. Secondary school was at St. Columbas in Dublin before the opportunity came to go to Notre Dame. Aged 24 years and 6 foot 2 inches in height Thomas is hoping for a personal best in China beating his current 1.4646, a flat 1.46 would get him into the semi final.
A Russian athlete is seen as one of the dangers, Borozetsky, to his hopes. But he does not yet know the heat or lane draw. See more on his blog (madra08u).
His mother Josephine is a school principal in Kilkenny and her husband, John is a retired marketing executive from Cantrell and Cochrane drinks firm, makers of Bulmers cider and other products.
Fellow athlete from Kilkenny Eileen O’Keeffe from nearby Callan in Co Kilkenny in the hammer has also had a bout of sickness and is hopeful of recovery.
Joanne Cuddihy from Kilkenny is another to suffer injuries, her race is the 400 metres, running for Kilkenny Harriers she is a student at UCD and became the first Irish woman to beat 51 seconds, clocking 50.73 seconds in the semi final of the world championships in Osaka. She also made the European finals in this event.