Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken's
Interviews and
Reports

JIM McNAMARA an IRISH LEGEND (May 2013)

Jim McNamara (74), is a well known in Irish Athletics and has been with Donore Harriers for 50 years now. He has been an Olympic athlete, a 'World Class' Master and more recently a very successful coach with his club..
   Jim was honoured with a tribute evening 'This is Your life.' at the Spa Hotel, Lucan in Ireland on the 18th of May this year.
   Looking back through the years Jim has had an impressive record. Even more so, when one realises he has had some hard times over the many years he has been in the sport. He has managed to foster 'Great' relationships' between Masters athletes in Ireland with Masters in England.
    He ran in 4 International (World) cross country Championships for Ireland.
   He was second in the Irish Olympic Marathon Trial in Limerick in 1976 in 2:14.54 behind David McDaid  (2:13.06) with Neil Cusack (2:17.07) third. Jim went on to be the first Irishman in the Montreal Olympics that year in 31st place overall, in 2:24.72 but one ahead of the outstanding marathon man, Bill Rodgers of the USA who was timed at 2:25.14.8. (Some years before in 1966 in Budapest fellow Irishman and friend Jim Hogan, from Limerick, won the European Marathon in 2:20.4.6.)
   I can well remember running around the outside of the track on the grass at Brighton with Jim McNamara, after he had won three gold medals in the European Veterans Championships in 1984 when, he was considered the athlete of the meeting, which was good, if you consider 3000 took part in those games!
   He won the 45-49 Final for 1500 (4:08.6); 5000 (15:00.4). The latter was ahead of Taff Davies and Mike Turner. . Jim won the 10,000 in 31:22.6 ahead of Aldegalega of Portugal and Ron Gomez of the UK. It  was in 1984 that he did a World Age Best of 14:47.8 for 5000, which wiped off the mark of Alain Mimoun of 14:56.4. (Incidentally Mimoun was the winner of the Olympic marathon of 1956 and runner up to Zatopek in he 5/10k in Helsinki in 1952).
   As a senior Jim cracked 50 minutes for 10 miles on the road with 49:00. He achieved World Masters Championships gold medals as a M40 in the 5000m and M50' 5000 and 10,000m. One of his best  marks was as a 48 year old running 3:59 for 1500!
   Ann Curley who has run a 2:53 marathon and 2:55.29, as the seventh Over 40 in the London Marathon in 2013, has been coached by Jim McNamara with the Donore Harriers and also runs in England for the Highgate Harriers. She was a valuable member of their ATW Metropolitan League team this last season.
   She talked about Jim McNamara "Nobody I can think of has put so much back in against the odds, he suffered a stroke in 2007 and weeks later he was back in the club giving sessions (against doctors orders) and hardly able to walk with the dizziness in his head. Somehow he got back to full health and ran in the British & Irish Masters International in Belfast a mere seventh months after that.
Ann continued by saying 'I have also never met anybody who copes with adversity better than Jim. He was widowed at 40 and left with 3 children and still managed to compete at high level. He has since had much pain in his life losing his nephew and son in law very young. He also struggled financially all his life in badly paid jobs and training hard around that. He could have gone on many of the masters trips around the world but can not afford to do so. In any case he doesn't like to be away from his group too much. He likes to keep a very close eye on them all That is why he is loved and respected. Since he retired 8 years ago I think he is busier than he ever was."

Alastair Aitken

Back to Reports Index

Back to Archive index