Perspective on the value of sporting success

The omission and/or self imposed exile of the likes of Darron Gibson and Kevin Pietersen from their respective sports has garnered much airtime and many column inches in recent months. In the opinion of yours truly, Gibson is simply sulking and feeling sorry for himself. Right, so he has lost out to the Irish soccer manager’s seemingly unending obsession with Glenn Whelan. But, at any level of sport, competitors have to bide their time. Do you think Bernard Brogan enjoyed serving his apprenticeship on the Dublin bench? Fat chance!
As for Pietersen, where his tale is similar to that of Gibson is that it too seems to be a case of a personality clash between the player and those in control of English cricket. The difference is, while Trap’s troops can certainly survive without the Everton midfielder, the same cannot be said of those who are currently bereft of one of the best batsmen in the world at present.


All that was mentioned because, important as these players are to some people, the petty nonsense surrounding them misses the true meaning of sporting success. Indeed, one need only look at the recently staged Paralympic Games to attain a real sense of perspective on the value of sporting success.
Don’t think less of me if I say, from a personal viewpoint, some of the action made emotionally difficult viewing. As ever, though, being able to make some sort of actual connection to it all helps. Thus, the presence of Ratoath’s James Scully and Heather Jameson of Ashbourne – not to mention Daraine Mulivihill from Ashbourne fronting the Channel 4’s coverage – made things even more especial.
And of course delight and admiration was felt for each and every one of the Irish athletes who collected medals. It would be impossible, too, not to be taken by the aura of Oscar Pistorious. Very much the poster boy of the games, the South African had, of course, competed at the ‘other’ Olympics about a month before he was meant to star.
Anyone expecting watered down sporting action very quickly woke up. In the build up, a piece was read bemoaning the over use of the word ‘inspirational’ in coverage of the Paralympics. While in one sense, the view contained in the article could be totally related to, the man you are about to read of – and who was the reason this column appears before you – is nothing short of inspirational.
I first met Limerick men James McCarthy due to the fact that my brother worked in the Treaty City for a number of years and became an ardent fan of Munster Rugby. Thus befriending James, his brother Brian and many others. You’ll recall this corner going to a Munster game earlier this year – that was thanks to James!
He typifies the Munster spirit too. Recently making his return to the Paralympics have previously thrown the Shot Put at Atlanta ’96 and also tasted sporting success in Basketball and Rowing and throwing the Javelin. So how did he settle on the Shot Put for London 2012?
He takes up the story himself: ‘I ended up rowing because an injury prevented me from throwing but I couldn’t find a partner for my rowing event’. Things didn’t work out badly at all as he equalled his 13th place finish of 16 years previous. Something he was delighted with after an injury hampered preparation – ‘All things considered I’d have to be happy because I was barely hitting ten (metres) in training’. That’s a good bit short of his Personal Best of 11.34. Yet, he managed to put all the difficulties behind him and throw an outstanding 10.70 on September 4th.
So what now for the future? ‘I’ll see what the qualifiers are (in the Shot) for the World Championships next year’. He’s not ruling out rowing his way to Rio either: ‘If they have a single boat event, that would give me a lot more drive and would be a goal but standards are very high’.
James McCarthy sets pretty high standards himself and it will be no surprise to see him make a splash in Brazil in four years time. In the meantime, there’s our reunion in Thomond Park in a few months to look forward to!

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