By contrast with the boxers, Irish athletics performances at these Games - with a few notable exceptions - has been truly depressing.
With respect to the Beijing team manager Patsy McGonagle, who is a good man, we suspect that elite Irish athletics is in terminal decline. A major factor is the deep stench hanging over the sport which began with Ben Johnson and hasn't gone away.
Virtually every major sprinter of the past two decades has been stripped of his or her credibility sooner or later. Systematic, out-of-season testing does pay dividends however, which is one reason why the American sprinters weren't quite as dominant (we suspect) this Games; jailing Marion Jones sent out a clear and unequivocal signal.
But cautious though we must be about slandering the innocent, we have to question - like anyone else with a brain - the dominance of groups of athletes from parts of the world where dope testing quite simply doesn't happen. And it's not just the Caribbean we are talking about.
Catching seven Russian athletes before the Games and a bald statement that systematic doping is part of the Russian system did nothing to reassure when watching a new world record in the women's steeplechase for instance. And why do no Africans - ever - get caught?
Against this background, Alistair Cragg is quite right to say that athletics has changed beyond imagining since the days when Coghlan, Treacy, Flynn, O'Mara and Marcus O'Sullivan represented Ireland with distinction on the tracks of the world. With the arrival of increasing numbers of African women, it has changed even since Sonia O'Sullivan's silver in Sydney.
Distance runners these days see no point in thrashing themselves running 100 and more miles a week. Because of the African domination, they still won't get anywhere, so why not enjoy themselves on the domestic circuit and have a life?
As for sprinters - Paul Hession is as good as we are going to get. That's pretty good by the way - we really could have a useful 4x400 team, and if someone had made sure our lads had travelled to the right competitions last year, we might even have had such a team in Beijing.
Is there a way back for athletics? We will always have the odd good performance - such as Eileen O'Keeffe at the World Championships last year - but that is as good as we can expect. Luck plays a part - Derval O'Rourke, David Gillick and Alistair Cragg ran brilliantly in 2006, but not this time. Joanne Cuddidy was injured; so was O'Keeffe; nothing more sinister than bad luck. Bad luck also afflicted Craig Mottram, Philips Idowu, Kelly Sotherton and countless others in Beijing. It's the way it goes. Still, how depressing it was to see both Cragg and Fagan not even finishing their races in the final weekend of the Games. Morale clearly was not high in the Irish camp.
Coming up with a prescription for the future isn't easy. Not reassuring is the job description for the job of High Performance Director which AAI currently has on their website, which is depressingly full of words like "pathways", "vision", ' best practise" "feedback loops"etc. Here's just one choice sentence from the job spec: "Creation of best practise integrated coaching pathways". Such waffle makes you wonder if they have any real idea of what they're looking for.
Boxing had Gary Keegan to organise the athletes and a Billy Walsh to coach them - plain talking, intelligent men, who above all are superb communicators. They kept it simple and it worked. Is there anyone in Irish athletics to match them?
We can think of one. Jamie Costin is already the athlete's rep on the AAI council. He'd be worth a call.