Irish missionary athletics coach honoured by DCU
Brother Colm O'Connell, Irish missionary and coach of five Kenyan Olympic Gold medallists, has been conferred with an honorary Doctor of Philosophy at Dublin City University. On hand to witness the event was David Rudisha, world record-holder, winner of the London 2012 800m Gold medal and alumnus of Brother Colm's world-renowned athletics coaching programme in Kenya's Rift Valley.
Accepting his honorary degree, Bro Colm said,
"It is a very humbling experience for me to stand here today to receive such an honour. When looking down through the list of honorary graduates who have gone before me in being honoured by this distinguished university, I feel, indeed, very happy. Also, for somebody to be selected from a remote little village in the highlands of Western Kenya and to be recognised in such a manner is beyond my wildest dreams and imaginings."
A member of the Patrician missionary order, Brother Colm joined St Patrick's High School in Iten, Kenya as a geography teacher in 1976. Thirty-six years later, he is still in Iten and is now acknowledged as the world's most successful coach of endurance running, having nurtured five Olympic Gold medallists and 25 world champions.
Delivering the citation at the convocation, Professor Niall Moyna, DCU School of Health & Human Performance said,
"Brother Colm, you are an iconic figure in Kenya and around the globe. You are widely admired for your compassion, humility and loyalty, and you have epitomised the motto of St Patrick's High School, 'success in all endeavours'. For more than 37 years, you have contributed to Ireland's proud missionary tradition in Africa and you have immeasurably enriched the lives of many in a land far away from the place of your birth.
You have generously shared your wisdom, mentoring hundreds of young men who studied in your classrooms, and coaching young male and female athletes to be the best they can by. Many of the greatest athletes of our time have been nurtured by your caring and supportive tutelage. For this legacy, and for your exemplary missionary service to the nation, we are proud to award you with the highest honour that Dublin City University can bestow."
Other guests in attendance at the honorary graduation ceremony included Linda Byrne, 2012 Irish Olympian and marathon runner; Senator Eamonn Coghlan; Mr John Foley, Chief Executive of the Athletic Association of Ireland; HE Ms Catherine Muigai Mwangi, Ambassador of the Republic of Kenya; and Mr John Treacy, Irish Sports Council.