A Lift From A Legend…

Then there was yesterday… Had remarkably little sleep the night before (about 3 and a half hours), up at 4, did the show and the usual stuff after and in St Stephen’s Green in Dublin for 11 for the event Trocaire were having there yesterday.

It was all quite fun and actually really invigorating (the adrenalin from giving me a mic and asking me to improvise a warm up on a stage for 45 mins in front of hundreds of kids can’t be beaten) but what happened after was something I hadn’t been expecting.

I have huge respect for devoted athletes and the star of the show yesterday was the legendary Ethiopian long distance runner and holder of 17 world records Haile Gebreselassie. He jogged up with a group of schoolkids to the bandstand in the Green to the strains of Chariots Of Fire surrounded by cheering and hordes of press… I really thought the track would sound cheesy in the context of what we were seeing but “extraordinary how potent cheap music is…” as Noel Coward once said.

The lift I got from just being near him was impossible to guage. He was so full of spirit and life and joy that it made my day if not my week… We were surrounded by a few hundred schoolkids (some of whom had come from as far as Cork, Sligo and Belfast and had gotten up at 5.30am), drenched in the continuing drizzle but the cheer he got when he arrived was one of those normally reserved for Irish sporting heroes.

Interviewed him on the stage with no notes and little knowledge of distance running (good old seat of the pants!) and then he was off to be grilled by TV but I left with a spring in my step and a remarkable lack of need for coffee for the rest of the day…