It is not every day that an ion of world sport pops in to visit your class, but that was the case for several Galway schools last week as Olympic champion and world record holder David Rudisha became integrated into the Galway scene.
And his presence was inspiring as it set off a weekend of records for athletics in Galway. The much anticipated visit of the Olympic 800m champion and his coach Br Colm O'Connell for the 'Galway Kenya Run' ensured it was an outstanding success.
There were record crowds in attendance at the Dangan Regional Sports Centre for an afternoon of 800m running and they were not disappointed. The legendary Rudisha lined up at the start of each event where more than 1,000 children participated.
David also took to the track in a Celebrity 800m with Ollie Canning, Alan Kerins, George Naoupu and pupils from St Joseph's Special School Galway. Although Rudisha is the world record holder for 800m, the St Joseph's school pupils got the better of him on the day!
Following the Celebrity 800m event, the crowd of thousands was treated to another athletics record when the first sub 4-minute mile was run in the City.
Spurred by the crowd, Ireland's Paul Robinson won the Elite Mile in a time of 3:57.98 ahead of Australia's Ben St Lawrence who also dipped under the 4-minute barrier with a time of 3:59.58. Later that evening, a packed Bailey Allen Hall were enthralled by a Questions and Answers Session with the Olympic Champion and his coach, who has trained more than 25 world champions and five Olympic Champions.
The record crowds at Dangan were the culmination of a five-day trip by David Rudisha, his wife Lizzy and Br Colm, who also visited 16 local national and secondary schools on Thursday and Friday.
The entire visit and event was sponsored by the North Pole Marathon and was designed to raise money for three charities: Galway Simon Community, Self Help Africa and Education for Life. The Kenyan Association in Galway sent the invitation to the two sporting legends.
North Pole Marathon organiser, Richard Donovan, said that thousands of kids have undoubtedly been inspired by David Rudisha and Brother Colm and that the pair, in turn, were overwhelmed by the reception they received. Richard said, "They have left with wonderful memories and a big attachment to Galway. David Rudisha certainly wants to come back. Thank you to the Galway Kenyan Community for inviting them."