Sunday, August 24, 2008
Boxing: Kenny Our Hero
So Kenny didn't take the gold - that doesn't take away from the arrival on the Irish sporting scene of a sportsman of pure class, an example not just to other boxers but to us all.
From the start of his fight with Xiang, we had the feeling that, like with Sutherland in the semi-finals, this was going to be one fight too far. We were right. On the day, the best boxer won, whatever anyone may say about hits not registering and the bias of the judges.
Kenny knew it himself- and, if anything, his impeccable behaviour and sportsmanship (and that of Xiang) after the fight only enhanced his stature. These two gentlemen proved superb ambassadors for their sport.
So did the RTE panel - Mick Dowling, Micheal Carruth, Andy Lee and Bernard Dunne spoke a language (it's called plain English) we don't hear very often in these days of MBA-speak. How refreshing to be reminded that sport commentary doesn't need to be mind-numbingly inane or queasily self-serving.
Then there was Jimmy Magee - what can we say? Aged 75 and still oozing boyish enthusiasm, along with those priceless turns of phrase. Long may you flourish, Jimbo!
By any standard, the Famous Five were the outstanding Irish success story of these Games. All five lost only to gold medal winners, two won bronze and one silver. Not only did they walk the walk but they talked the talk, coming across as a bunch of bright an articulate lads - unlike some of the trash-taking English.
About the only bad news is that high performance director Gary Keegan is about to set off for the Institute of Sport, which is already bearing all the marks of a white elephant on the scale of the National Consumer Agency.
Maybe he will learn to cope with the mountains of paper work, the snail-slow progress, the politics and the aforementioned MBA-speak ("pathways", "best practice", "going forward"), but we suspect he'll very quickly lose patience.
Stick with the boxing Gary - it could get even better.