Sports

Finn Valley's Patsy rubs shoulders with Usain Bolt

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Finn Valley's Patsy rubs shoulders with Usain Bolt thumbnailFinn Valley Athletic Club chairman, Patsy McGonagle, and his wife, Rosaleen, with the one and only Usian Bolt at the premiere of the new documentary-film on the Jamacian runner's life in London

LAST Monday evening was a special occasion for members of Finn Valley Athletics Club as they attended the world premiere of 'I Am Bolt', the story of the the fastest man in history, Usain Bolt.

At the glitzy event in London's Odeon theatre in Leicester Square, Finn Valley members rubbed shoulders with celebrities,not least the man himself, the iconic Bolt, who is managed by Milford man, Richard Simms.

A former Finn Valley AC middle distance runner, Simms is a director of Pace Sports Management, and has managed the Jamaican superstar since he was an unknown 16-year-old. Fellow Donegal native, Grainne O'Dea from Raphoe, is the Athlete Services Manager at Pace, and works closely with Bolt and other top athletes, including British Olympian, Mo Farah.

Finn Valley club chairman, Patsy McGonagle, and his wife, Rosaleen, were among the 20-strong party invited to London by Richard to attend the event.

"It was a great night, fantastic to get the atmosphere. It was memorable evening enjoyed by all," said Patsy. "Bolt is great company to be around, very relaxed, and good 'craic.'"

'I Am Bolt' is a documentary film that charts Bolt's life and career, and shows a rare glimpse behind the scenes at the world's fastest man.

The premiere was attended by celebrities such as Justin Bieber and Liam Payne, and Premier League footballers Hector Bellerin, Olivier Giroud, Cesc Fabregas and Raheem Sterling.

Patsy though is no stranger to meeting the world's biggest athletes, having recently retired as the senior team manager of the Irish national athletics team. Serving in the role since 1999, Patsy oversaw five Olympic Games, as well as many European and World Championships.

"The nature of global athletics, with the travel and all the training camps and games, it is very demanding. There were some great highlights during my time, notable Sonia O'Sullivan winning silver at Sydney in 2000, and Rob Heffernan getting his bronze medal in the 50k walk after the London 2012 games."

Patsy says though that now his focus is Finn Valley, which he helped set up in 1971. The club's athletes do not just hail from the East Donegal region, also as far as the areas of Aghyaran and Castlederg.

"There is so much going on with the club here through schools, local events and national competitions. That's what will keep me busy from now on."

There is even talk of Bolt visiting Finn Valley in the future.

"It's something we have talked about, and would love to happen," said Patsy. "He's one of the biggest icons in sporting history, to have him visit Donegal would be fantastic. It would be very hard to nail him down though, given how much of a celebrity he is."

The people of Finn Valley wait in hope for a Bolt from the blue.

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