Why double Olympic champion O’Callaghan didn’t compete in Berlin 1936

Published in 20th-century / Contemporary History, Features, Issue 4 (July/August 2012), Volume 20

Double Olympic hammer champion (1928 and 1932) Pat O’Callaghan—in Berlin in 1936 he was a spectator. (Tipperary County Museum)

Double Olympic hammer champion (1928 and 1932) Pat O’Callaghan—in Berlin in 1936 he was a spectator. (Tipperary County Museum)

When hammer-thrower Pat O’Callaghan returned from Amsterdam in 1928 as the first Olympic champion from an Irish state, he declared: ‘I am glad of my victory, not of the victory itself, but for the fact that the world has been shown that Ireland has a flag, that Ireland has a national anthem, and in fact that we have a nationality’.
In its time, this was an apt expression of the meaning of an international sporting presence to the emerging nation. His words expressed the national aspiration to true independence, while revealing the uncertainty of its reality. O’Callaghan retained his title in 1932, just an hour after Bobby Tisdall from Tipperary won gold in the 400m hurdles. But in Berlin in 1936 he was a spectator, barred from participation owing to the expulsion of his association, the NACA, from the IAAF. His career had fallen victim to what became known nationally as ‘the split’, the fragmentation and isolation of Irish athletics through the first five decades of the Irish state.

'


Copyright © 2019 History Publications Ltd, Unit 9, 78 Furze Road, Sandyford, Dublin 18, Ireland | Tel. +353-1-293 3568