Neil Ryan

OLYMPICS: 1996

OLYMPICS: 1996

SPORT: ATHLETICS [100m]

Neil Ryan was born in Ennis, Co. Clare on 24 JAN, 1968 - his mother Nuala is a native of Ennis, and his father Con Ryan was born in Cappawhite, Co. Tipperary [b. 13 MAY, 1911]. Con’s father had been working in Dublin for Guinness and moved to Cappawhite after he was left a farm there by a relative. The family later moved to Murroe, Co. Limerick, and Neil’s father Con Ryan got a job with CIE in Limerick. Neil’s parents got married in St. Joseph’s Church in Limerick’s city centre in 1950, and they moved to Ennis around 1952 where Con worked as a bus driver with CIE mainly on the Ennis/Shannon route. Neil was educated at Ennis National School and St. Flannan’s College, and later at Kingston University, London [MSc, Information Systems] and University of Limerick [BSc, Information Technology]. One of his first competitive races was at the Ennis Community Games athletics finals of 1976 when he won the 100 metres for the under 10’s. Following this success, he joined Marian Athletic Club and was a regular Community Games competitor. Neil also played gaelic football at Ennis National School, St. Flannan’s College and Éire Óg GAA Club, Ennis – at St. Flannan’s College he played in both the Frewen Cup and for the senior team in the Munster Senior Schools, and he won a U17 gaelic football county championship medal with Éire Óg. He also won a U16 soccer county championship medal with the Ennis team Hermitage FC – and played some rugby with Ennis RFC.

In 1991 he joined Nenagh Olympic AC, and along with fellow Nenagh Olympic athlete Gary Ryan he revolutionised Irish sprinting in the mid 1990’s. At the start of 1996 his personal best for 100m was 10.80 but at Bedford, England he ran 10.77 and later in Dublin he ran 10.58 to equal Derek O’Connor’s eleven year old Irish record. At the 1996 Cork City Sports he ran a splendid 10.53, second to Gary Ryan who ran in a new record of 10.48. Both competed at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, the first Irish sprinters to appear at that level since the late Fanahan McSweeney, from Mitchelstown, Co. Cork at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games. Neil’s Olympic time for the 100m was 10.78, finishing seventh in heat ten.

When he qualified for the Olympics his coach and adviser at Nenagh Olympic, Sean Naughton said Neil’s biggest asset was his total commitment to the sport and his faith in himself, “He works extremely hard at his training. He is technically very good and always strives to improve. He has done a lot of strength training which has helped him greatly and his ambition for a long time was to take part in the Olympics”. In 1997 at Riga, in Latvia Neil Ryan ran his best 100m when he ran 10.46, an Irish record. At the 1997 World Athletic Championships held in Athens, Greece he was part of the Irish 4 x 100m relay team that ran a new Irish record 39.46 seconds, his team mates were Gary Ryan [Tipperary], Kevin Cogley [Wexford] and Tom Comyns [Limerick]. In total Neil Ryan has won 4 Irish 100m national titles [1992, 1996, 1997, 1998] and 2 Irish indoor national titles [1992, 1998] – and he was the winner of the athletics award at the 1992 Tipperary Sports Awards. Neil Ryan presently lives in Ennis and works in Dublin in IT as a senior vice president of Information Management with Citigroup at the International Financial Services Centre [IFSC] in Dublin’s Docklands.

Next Week: Tomás Coman, Olympic athlete from Two-Mile-Borris.

©Michael O’Dwyer

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