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  • Ron Delany

    On the Home page, there's a nice article about Ron Delany, who was one of my early heroes.
    A few years ago, while walking with my elderly cousin in Bray,, co. Wicklow, Ireland, for some reason I asked her if she ever heard about Delany anymore and, to my amazement, she told me that she'd just seen him at the local Tesco's ( supermarket) that morning!
    Few realize what the effect must have been on a small, but sports-mad nation when he won the Melbourne 1500m.

  • #2
    Yes Django, Ron Delany is a huge hero and famous person on the streets of Ireland. I have relatives who live in Ireland from my father's side and they all sing praises of Delany and how down to earth he is on the streets of Dublin. When I took my family to Ireland about 25 years ago I found his address and called to see if I could meet him and he said sure come over. My children had heard all about the 1956 Olympic Gold Medal winner from me and he came out to greet us at his gate and invited us in to meet his wife. we sat in his living room for over a half hour. He showed my children his gold medal which was hanging over his fireplace mantle. My children were amazed that his medal would be so out in the open. The front door was wide open, no locks on the windows, and there sat his Gold Medal set in a little picture frame just hanging on one nail from the wall.
    He was gracious with his time and talked about his running days at Villanova under Jumbo Elliott.
    It was a day to remember for me and my family that we still talk about. Ron Delany is a very humble and modest man who climbed to the top of the mountain in Melbourne in 1956 and thrilled thousands of fans with his amazing string of indoor mile victories and bobbing-like stride and devastating kick.

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    • #3
      I once saw some footage of Delany running a leg of the mile relay at the Penn Relays. He ran exactly the same way, only a little faster. I wish I could find it.

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      • #4
        The very first big outdoor track meet I ever went to was the Penn Relays in 1958 or 1957, and I distinctly remember seeing Delany run a leg on a mile relay, not anchor, and I don't think leadoff either.

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        • #5
          What amazes me is how some of these athletes were able to perform after having to travel to Melbourne in 1956. Today just about the quickest trip from Dublin to Melbourne takes 22 hours with a 1 1/2 hour layover in Dubai. I can imagine how long it took in 1956. Did they fly or go by boat in 1956?

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          • #6
            Originally posted by thedoorknobbroke View Post
            What amazes me is how some of these athletes were able to perform after having to travel to Melbourne in 1956. Today just about the quickest trip from Dublin to Melbourne takes 22 hours with a 1 1/2 hour layover in Dubai. I can imagine how long it took in 1956. Did they fly or go by boat in 1956?
            Air travel was a lot more expensive back then. Relevant text from 1956: European and Global Perspectives.

            Commercial air travel was costly and grueling. In 1949, when the city was awarded the Games, a round-trip airplane ticket from England to Australia cost as much as a three-bedroom house in Melbourne's suburbs. As the bidders had promised, the advent of commercial jet airlines (which arrived in 1954) brought airfares down, but even in 1956 a ticket to Australia from Europe cost as much as a new car.
            What was it like and how long did it take vs ship? From the same source.

            Nor was the journey fast or comfortable: Qantas's Lockheed Super Constellation airliners took three days to reach London and even under normal conditions flew at a height that produced more or less constant turbulence.

            Countries looking for cheaper transportation sent their Olympic teams by ship, but weeks on board in cramped quarters made it hard for athletes to maintain their conditioning. (part of the Soviet team, went by ship from Odessa, a journey that took a month.)
            As for the Irish team, they apparently went west.

            Dublin-New York-San Francisco-Honolulu-Canton-Fiji-Sydney-Melbourne

            There was definitely plane travel across the Pacific but I couldn't find anything about the first legs.

            Plane across the Pacific

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            • #7
              Here's an article talking about the first of many Irish athletes, like Delany, to attend Villanova. It started with Jimmy Reardon.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by JumboElliott View Post
                I once saw some footage of Delany running a leg of the mile relay at the Penn Relays. He ran exactly the same way, only a little faster. I wish I could find it.
                I don't need footage to remember how he ran. I think I attended every IC4A indoor and outdoor championships, and every Penn Relays, that he ran during his college years, and some other meets as well. I can easily picture his unique running style in my mind's eye.

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                • #9
                  According to Ronnie Delany's biography book< "Staying the Distance" Delany was at Villanova in the fall of 1956 going to classes and training twice a day with Breckenridge and Kopil trying to get into mile shape. He did not know he mad the Irish Olympic Team selection until October. He had no communication with his homeland on how he was to get to Ireland until November where he met team of twelve members in New York and flew to San Francisco where they trained for a few days at Berkeley before departing on a junket flight on Nov 17 five days before opening ceremony landing in Honolulu, Fiji, and Sydney and then Melbourne three days before opening ceremony.

                  Does anyone remember the broadcasts of the indoor meets from New York by Marty Glickman describing the mile races with Delany on the radio. I was a Freshman in high school just getting into track workouts when I would be glued to my bedroom blue radio on Friday or Saturday nights listening to the events as if I was in the arena watching the 11 lap races. I never saw Delany run but watched movies and TV reels of his bouncing stride and his arms tight to his chest.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by El Toro View Post
                    ...
                    There was definitely plane travel across the Pacific but I couldn't find anything about the first legs....
                    As I recall Bert Nelson telling it, the T&N tour went San Francisco-Honolulu-Fiji-Melbourne. I believe prop planes all the way.

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                    • #11
                      My parents got married in Honolulu in 1952...Dad was leading an Amex tour and mother flew from Chicago...$600...and prop planes all the way. Mother was an RN and in those days so were the flight stewardesses....so they chatted quite a bit. A lot of fun....a buffet on the plane from San Francisco to Honolulu.

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                      • #12
                        Very interesting comments! I do recall having listened to the radio descriptions of many of his indoor races, since in those days, there was no TV coverage, especially in my my area!
                        In my long-ago student days, I went to Dublin to study for about 3 months, and I fully understand the story about poor communication with Irish officials! Those were pre-internet days, and when I wanted to do something as simple as phoning home, I had to walk a few blocks to the famous GPO ( post office) to place the call, and the phone system in those days required that I drop some coins into slot A to initiate the call, and then I had to be prepared with a pile of coins to drop into slot B once the call was answered.
                        None of my pals from those times were interested in athletics (they were rugby fanatics), but I'm sure that, had I connected with the right person, I might have met Delany. In those days ( 1967), it seemed that anyone in Dublin knew almost any other person, or else had a friend who was connected. I had briefly met an Irish miler named Tom O' Riordan, who attended school at Idaho State, and wrote regularly about athletics in, I think, The Irish Independent, but I was too shy to look him up and say hello. My fault, since I'm sure he'd have been friendly, and possibly arranged an introduction to Delany.
                        I had not known about Delany's autobiography, but I'll look for it. Sounds as if it'd be a fun read, so thanks for that tip

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                        • #13
                          Thanks again for the tip about Delany's autobiography, which I'd been unaware of. I ordered a copy today for about $7 including shipping, but noted that it's also available in paperback for $894.90! I don't trust my old eyes anymore, but that's how it looked on amazon!

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by midwestfan View Post
                            Does anyone remember the broadcasts of the indoor meets from New York by Marty Glickman describing the mile races with Delany on the radio. I was a Freshman in high school just getting into track workouts when I would be glued to my bedroom blue radio on Friday or Saturday nights listening to the events as if I was in the arena watching the 11 lap races. I never saw Delany run but watched movies and TV reels of his bouncing stride and his arms tight to his chest.
                            Funny, I just watched a few of Delany's races and that stride of his was tailor made for close-quarter, elbow-to-elbow, toe-to-heel racing. For a big guy he really fit comfortably in the mix.

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                            • #15
                              My best Delany Memory is the 1959 AAU at MSQ ( I was there ! ) when he set a new World Indoor record of 4:02.5.
                              Last edited by dukehjsteve; 01-24-2020, 09:28 PM.

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