Tuam man appointed to top Olympic job

Another Galwegian will be heading to the Olympic Games in two weeks. Athenry's Paul Hession and Loughrea's Olive Loughnane will be competing on the track, and a third local, Tuam’s Pierce O'Callaghan, has been appointed as an international technical official for athletics.

Thirty-six-years-old Mr O'Callaghan has been living in Tuam for the past five years since marrying Tuam’s Tamara O'Driscoll and together they set up SAVVY Sports , a sports management company.

Mr O'Callaghan was the youngest official to pass the International Athletics Federation’s examination process when he became a European technical official at 29 in 2005 and a World technical official at 30 in 2006. Since then he has officiated in more than 20 countries, including a memorable last minute call up for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

"I went out to the Beijing Olympics mainly as a spectator and a babysitter as I brought our five-month-old baby Savanagh with me as Tamara had been working there for a few weeks before the Games. However, on arrival, I received a phone call from the IAAF informing me that one of the appointed international officials had suffered a heart attack and wasn't going to make Beijing and would I step in to his place. Once I arranged a baby sitter for Savanagh, I was only too delighted to."

On the back of that performance he was delighted to be appointed again and is under no illusions as to how lucky he is.

"Since 1932 Ireland has only had one other official appointed for the Olympic Games so I am fully aware how honoured and fortunate I am and intend to enjoy every moment of the Games."

Mr O'Callaghan served in the same role at the 2009 IAAF World Championships in Berlin, where Olive Loughnane won a memorable silver medal for Ireland under the Brandenburg Gates and is unsurprisingly hoping he sees the Galway woman on the podium again in London.

"I have been a judge for her last two big international races in Russia in May and Italy in June and she is on top form, so fingers crossed she can perform on the big day when it really matters"

A former international athlete, who achieved the Olympic standard for the Sydney Games but had to withdraw through injury, O'Callaghan has served at the top of his sport as director of communication for the European Athletics Association from 2006-2009 and is currently an elected member of the European athletics competition committee and consultant for the European Olympic committees.

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