John Doherty

OLYMPICS: 1988, 1992

OLYMPICS: 1988, 1992


John Doherty was born on 22 JUL, 1961 in Leeds, in West Yorkshire, England - and is the second son of Irish-born parents. His father hails from Castlederg, Co. Tyrone while his mother is a member of the Fenton family from Ashbury, Roscrea, Co. Tipperary. John Doherty attended Corpus Christi High School in Leeds and was a member of Leeds City Athletic Club. As a junior athlete he declared for Northern Ireland and still holds the Northern Ireland junior record for 3000m [7:56.28] and 5000m [13:48.84], both set in 1980. Both of these times are better than the current Irish junior records held by Mark Christie [3000m - 8:04.48] and John Treacy [5000m - 14:04.6]. In 1982 at the age of 21 he accepted an athletic scholarship for business studies at Providence College, in Rhode Island, USA but he abandoned his course 18 months later and took up full time road racing in America.

During his time at Providence College he met his future wife there and they got married on 13 OCT, 1984 at St. Patrick’s Church, Nashua, New Hampshire and after a honeymoon in Cape Cod they have been living since at Milford, New Hampshire. Earlier in 1984 John Doherty nearly got to compete for Great Britain in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, he finished third in a trial to select the three to represent Britain at the Olympic Games in the 5000m. Normally third would have guaranteed him a trip to the Olympics but the former world record holder David Moorcroft returned from injury shortly thereafter and a frustrated Doherty lost his chance to run, only to see Moorcroft struggling and finishing dead last in the 5000m Olympic final. In 1987 John Doherty declared for Ireland and on 5 JUL, 1988 he defeated a top class field to win the 5000m event at the Grand Prix meeting in Stockholm in 13:17.14 - the fastest in the world so far that year. He was altitude training in Saint Moritz, Switzerland and his time was slightly over 6 seconds better than his previous best and 16 seconds inside the Irish Olympic qualifying time.

At the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea running for Ireland he qualified in both the heats and semi-final of the 5000m and in the final on 1 OCT, 1988 he finished 9th in a race won by John Ngugi, of Kenya. He again ran for Ireland in the 5000m at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona but only finished 6th in the first round - Dieter Baumann, of Germany won the final that year. John Doherty won many major road races in America; including the Peachtree Road Race, a 10 kilometre road race held annually in Atlanta, Georgia on 4 July, Independence Day. He won in 1986 in a course record 27.56 – just one other Irishman has won this race, Eddie Leddy from Co. Leitrim who won in 1975. John Doherty also won the Manchester Road Race, in Manchester, Connecticut in 1986 and 1987. Other Irish athletes to win this 4.748 mile [7.641 km] race held annually on Thanksgiving Day are John Treacy [1978, 1979, 1984, 1985], Eamonn Coghlan [1981, 1982, 1983], Mark Carroll [1998, 2000] and Martin Fagan [2008]. Amongst many other big races he won is the Holyoke St. Patrick’s Road Race held in Holyoke, Massachusetts on St. Patrick’s weekend - he won in 1992 and 1993, and his time of 28.46 in 1993 for the 10km race is still a course record. Other Irish athletes to win this race are Ray Treacy [1982, 1985], Richard Mulligan [1983, 1984], John Treacy [1987], Andy Ronan [1991], Paul Donovan [1994], Geraldine Hendricken [1993] and Stephanie O’Reilly [2003, 2010]. John Doherty won the Irish 5000m title in 1988 and his best track times are 7:41.59 for 3000m, 13:14.17 for 5000m and 27:49.74 for 10,000m.

Next Week: Peter Maher, ran Olympic marathon for Canada.

©Michael O’Dwyer

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