Moyvane man’s eyes on Olympic Gold in Beijing

by Dónal Nolan — The Kerryman Newspaper

Tom Shanahan
Tom Shanahan at home in Moyvane
One of the United States’ top Olympic hopes, Nick Symmonds, might never have made it so far but for the help of his Moyvane trainer, Tom Shanahan.

Winning the US Olympic trials in the 800 metres with the second-fastest time ever for the length on American soil recently, Symmonds is in the top ten in the World for middle-distance running. But were it not for the encouragement nd coaching given him as a young athlete by Tom Shanahan, he might never have come this far.

Tom – a former star cross-country and middle-distance runner himself – first came across the young lad while teaching High School in Boise, Idaho. Having arrived in the States in the early 1990s on a sports scholarship, Tom was well-placed to recognise the young runner’s potential.

“He was playing soccer with the school initially and it wasn’t until his mother, who was also teaching the school and whom I was friends with, asked me to take him on in the cross-country that we noticed his potential,” Tom told The Kerryman.

“I gave him two weeks to start with and said if he didn’t like it, he could leave it. He got on great, however and about three weeks later, while doing one of the workouts he suddenly went from being middle of the pack to number one.” Symmonds retained the top slot and there’s been no looking back since, as his speed has come on in leaps and bounds and along with it, state and national titles.

“His best speed for the 800 metres is 1.44.08 and based on the training we’re doing now I’m confident he’s capable of going a second faster. We have a great chance of a medal.”

Tom hopes now to take time out from his current coaching position at Boise State University to accompany his protegé to China where Symmonds contests the quarterfinals on August 20th.

Note: Nick won his quarterfinal heat in Beijing but came fifth in the semifinal and failed to qualify for the final.