Jerry Kiernan (2)
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Jerry Kiernan was born in the little village of Brosna in north Kerry, where his father was a member of An Garda Síochána. A very promising footballer in his youth, he won a Kerry Minor County Championship medal with Feale Rangers and also played for St Michael's College, Listowel. However, his great love for athletics was born as he watched the best runners in the world compete in the Tokyo Olympics of 1964. He was simply, as he says himself, 'born to run'. He won his first medal in Duagh when he finished second at a local sports meeting. Little did he realise that this was the beginning of what was to be one of the greatest running careers of any Kerryman to date. In fact Jerry's ninth place finish in the Los Angeles Olympic Marathon is the second highest placing ever achieved by an Irishman. That same year John Tracy won the silver in the very same race.
As a youth Jerry won all the major under-age titles, Kerry, Munster and All-Ireland; his career was blossoming. He left Kerry at eighteen years of age to begin a teaching career in Dublin and joined the famous Clonliff Harriers Athletic Club, with whom he won a host of All-Ireland championships. His ability at a range of distances was astonishing. He was fractionally outside the world record for the ten miles, running this in 46.5 minutes. Jerry ran in four Dublin City Marathons, winning twice and setting the record time in 1982. Then, in a classic mile race in June 1976, the Kerryman became the very first from the county and only the seventh Irishman to run under four minutes for the distance. Rod Dixon was the winner.
The Kerryman competed all over the world despite his commitment to his teaching career. Half-marathons, full marathons, 10km, the mile or 3,000 m (he held the then Irish record for this distance), Jerry took them all in his stride. He excelled at cross-country running and won All-Irelands at Under-18, Under-20 and senior level in 1984. He was a regular on the Irish team, winning close to sixty green singlets: a magnificent achievement for this Kerryman. When the book of Kerry's greatest athletes is finally written, Jerry Kiernan will be right there at the very top.
In the Los Angeles Olympic Marathon of 1984 he proved beyond a doubt that he was equal to the worlds very best. Finishing ninth, despite cramping a lot towards the finish, was an astonishing achievement when you consider that this was one of the greatest fields of marathon runners ever assembled: Carlos Lopez of Portugal won the gold in a new Olympic record time, John Treacy was second for Ireland, and Charlie Spedding of England was third. Other legendary names in the field of 105 athletes running shoulder to shoulder with the Brosna man that blistering hot day in Los Angeles included: Alberto Salazar (USA), Takeshi So (Japan), Rob de Castella (Australia), Joseph Nzau (Kenya) and the legendary Toshihiko Seko (Japan). We can only speculate what further greatness Jerry Kiernan would have achieved if he had gone to America and become a full-time athlete.
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