International Children’s Games deemed to be a huge success for Tralee
Twenty Tralee students, representing the town of Tralee at the 2005 International Childrens Games in Coventry, had a never to be forgotten experience on the international stage this past week. Competing against athletes from countries all over the world the Irish boys and girls gave some outstanding individual and team performances in Track and Field and in Soccer.
The team arrived in Coventry on Wednesday, July 6th to be met by members of the ICG committee, the Lord Mayor of Coventry, Mr John Mutton, and members of the local media, who conducted interviews and compiled reports on members of the team. The photograph of the team descending down the steps from the aeroplane, which appeared on the front page of the Coventry Observer on Thursday, will always be a cherished possession of the team. From there they were bussed to their rooms at the University of Warwick, the central location for the all events and in fact the “games village”. An exciting feature of this first day was the arrival and greeting of teams from all over the world, which continued throughout the day. Coupled with the news of London’s selection for the 2012 Olympic Games, the sense of excitement and anticipation was fever pitch at the evening meal, which was later followed by a “welcome to the games” disco and party. These games are based on the concept of increasing peace, understanding and friendship among the youth of the world and this was clearly to be seen throughout the week.
Day two (July 7th) was a training day for all athletes and teams, with coaches familiarising themselves with the games schedules, different locations, and transport provision. Thursday evening saw the 1500 athletes, representing all five continents, brought to the Coventry rugby ground for the Games Opening Ceremony. This will forever remain in the memory of every athlete. All teams entered the Arena one at a time to extraordinary fanfare, were the treated to an hour of music, dance and exhibition, before the games were officially opened by the Games President, Mr Torsten Rasch of Germany. This was followed by a pageant depicting the history of Coventry, featuring spectacular dance routines, drama, incredible backdrops and costumes and altogether 1000 Coventry children were involved. A spectacular finale, featuring a powerful fireworks display, was further enhanced with the spontaneous mingling of athletes and performers during the final pieces of music and dance. The childlike, youthful exhilaration of the moment, the celebration and ceremonial styles of different teams and cultures, and the sense of boundless joy and enjoyment is forever imprinted on the minds of participating children.
Competitions began on Friday –July 8th- day three. Track and field, swimming, tennis, table tennis and soccer got underway in beautiful sunshine with some degree of trepidation and expectation, despite the tragic news of the London bombings that morning. On the soccer front the Tralee team lost all three group games: to Bangkok, Thailand 3-0, to Kecskemet of Hungary 2-0 and to Cleaveland, Ohio 3-0. They had played well in all their games but were on average one year younger than most of their opponents and extra atrength and physique told against them. Gary Nolan, Martin Kerins, and Chris Carmody were outstanding in all games, while in goals Seamus Bastible brought off many world class saves. Up front Alan o Shea was unlucky not to get on the score sheet, while Ian Carey offered much needed support against all opponents.
The team would now advance to the Plate competition, which would be played on Saturday.
First into action on the track were Megan Dunne and Patricia Tierney in the 100m. Both girls finished 4th in their heats, and while performing at their own personal best times they nevertheless failed to advance to round two. In the boys event Padraig Rice ran an excellent race but was well off the pace of the top athletes, a recurring theme for Tralee at the games regrettably. In truth the standard at the games was extremely high, with many fifteen year olds already setting their sights on London 2012. In this respect this was a real eye opener for all involved in athletics and the development of our young athletes.
Caoimhe Casey and Aisling Ni Nuallain found themselves in the same heat of the 800m for girls. Aisling ran a new personal best time to edge home in fourth ahead of Caoimhe, but both would fail to qualify for round two, which were based on finishing times. Michael Brennan and Diarmuid Herlihy were likewise in the same heat of the 1500m, with Michael heading Diarmuid home in fourth place in a great personal tussle. Michael’s twin sister Lisa came tantalisingly close to making the final twelve in the High Jump. She made it to the final five in her group of ten, jumping at 1.5m, a personal best for Lisa, and finishing in 13th place overall, an excellent performance on the day.
After a good night’s sleep - the result of exhaustion –it was back to action on Saturday, July 9th.. First in action was the soccer team against Ravne na Koroskem of Slovenia. A great game ended at one apiece with Chris Carmody registering Tralee’s first international goal. Brendan o Neill and Robert Shanahan were prominent and impressive for the local side. Game two saw Tralee in action against Lahore of Pakistan. Goals from Alan o Shea, Carmody and Shanahan ensured a 3 – 1 win and Tralee’s first victory at the games. Confidence was high as they faced New Delhi in their final game. A brace from O Shea and one each from Gary Nolan, Carmody and Ian Carey brought a 5-0 win and top of the table position. The remaining group fixtures saw Ravne na Koroskem join the Irish lads at the top on points and goal difference. The final was played on Sunday and unfortunately Tralee could not match their stronger opponents on this occasion and went down 4 –0. Despite the disappointment of losing the final the players were delighted with seven competitive fixtures which produced some great matches and incidents. Team coaches Tom Enright and Enda Culloty were justifiably proud of the performances of their charge
Founder of the ICG Professor Metod Klemenc, with Mike, Siobhán and Carmel at Coventry Cathedral.
Back on the athletic track Jamie Lowham was in action in the Shot Putt. He was throwing at one Kg higher than his normal level. Due to this he was always struggling against older and more mature athletes. He failed to qualify for round two but can be proud of his performance, which certainly gives hope for the future. Rebecca Spellman and Ciara Hill gave of their best in the Long Jump, performing to their own personal bests, and Padraig Rice competed with distinction in the boy’s High Jump. The girl’s relay team of Tierney, Brennan, Dunne and Spellman ran well in the 4 x 100m, finishing fifth in their heat. Elaine Costelloe and Liam Culloty, coaches to the athletic team, can be proud of the overall performance and know that all will have gained much from the experience of the Games.
The team had the opportunity to visit Coventry city centre on Saturday evening to view some of the sights, most notably the city cathedrals which leave a lasting spiritual impression, and to do some shopping for home!!! On Sunday the closing ceremony took place in Memorial Park as part of the Lady Godiva Festival, the city’s largest summer festival. In brilliant sunshine and fantastic atmosphere the Games came to a fitting conclusion, with the presentation of medals to the winners in true Olympic fashion. Returning to the University of Warwick later that evening the teams were treated to a variety of Asian and European dishes for their evening meal. This was followed by a farewell disco, which was thoroughly enjoyed by all.
Lord Mayor of Coventry, Mr John Mutton, who invited Tralee to participate in 2005
The Tralee team were accompanied to the Games by parents Mrs Siobhan O Nuallain and Mrs Carmel Quilter o Neill and returned to Shannon on Monday on a 7.00am flight out of Coventry Airport. They will have seen firsthand some future Olympians and will have a much greater understanding of the dedication required for this level of competition. When the dust finally settles, however, it is the friendships made with fellow children from all over the globe and the “craic” they all shared during the week that will live longest in the memory -- that and the desire to participate at the next International Children’s Games.
Athletics: Lisa Brennan, Michael Brennan, Aisling O Nuallain, Megan Dunne, Patricia Tierney, Ciara Hill, Jamie lowham, Diarmuid Herlihy, Caoimhe Casey, Rebecca Spellman, Padraig Rice
Soccer: Gary Nolan, Martin Kerins, Chris Carmody, Seamus Bastible, Brendan o Neill, Robert Shanahan, Alan o Shea, Ian Carey.