It’s that “I’ll get you going” spirit that only an ex Olympic Boxer can own so uniquely.
You know? Incites you but disguises it so beautifully.
Even the walk has a certain “I just knocked him out” lethargic relaxed look.
Yes, he is The General but never more so than on Race Day in May.
Us veteran Club Members understand Race Day.
Years of practice allow us all to slip seamlessly into our role.
Myles on the finish, Tony on chaos, Trevor at Terenure and so on.
But it’s the Cock O’ Hoop walk that gets me every time.
You see, I’m the driver of the Clock Car Jeep and it’s surprisingly stressful.
The Olympic European Multi record holder fuels it beautifully.
An hour before the start the clock gets fitted. The techno guys give clear instructions;
“Don’t touch this, hit that, wait, go, pause, prepare”.
10 minutes to go and I line the Clock car up 30 meters from the start. No sign of Mick.
5 minutes to go “Where is Mick?”.
2 minutes to go, Mick appears, the strut is on.
Like Napoleon, he walks head high, to inspect the start line. Anxious athletes are fuelled to go.
The General utters his few words, the tension builds.
The Techno get strung out and I pray that the Jeep won’t stall.
10 seconds to the start shouts one to the other.
Garda bikes circle and growl.
The walk begins, the tension rises.
The Olympian begins his walk. It’s not a hurried walk, it’s an Olympians walk.
It is his moment to return to ‘his corner’.
The tape is dropped, athletes are marshaled forward, the Olympian continues.
Now he is dueling, fighting, challenging.
The Olympian is an Athlete.
With his back to the Runners he dares them to race.
The Jeep groans, the Gardai growl impatiently.
The gun goes, The Olympian still walks.
“For &*^%s sake Mick, come on”.
It makes no difference.
The athletes are unleashed in a ferocious wave.
The Olympian responds and, with seconds to spare, leaps like a salmon into his seat.
His grin says it all.
Another KO, another victory.
When 5 miles of meandering are done we finish for another year.
The Chairman looks calm, his victory sure.
“That’s that, no more, too much, I’m done” he protests.
I pause and say “Until next year”.
The Olympian smiles.
He knows I’m right and he’ll be back!