JIM HOGAN is a name that a certain generation of Limerick sports fans hold dear to their hearts.
The famous Irish runner passed away this week and I felt that I might try and use the space in this column to inform those who knew little or nothing of this champion athlete.
In a time before social media and viral Internet sensations, Jim Hogan, from Croom, was World famous. When famous really meant famous.
Born in 1933, Jim Hogan was originally Cregan. The Limerick native would later change his name when he lived in London.
Hogan ran for Ireland in the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo, where he was second in the marathon until the 23rd mile, before failing to finish behind eventual champion Abebe Bikila from Ethipoia. Hogan also ran in the 10,000 metres.
In 1966, Hogan achieved arguably his greatest feat. Again, in the marathon, Hogan ran 2:20:04 at the European Athletics Championships in Budapest. In doing so, Hogan secured gold and remains, to this day, the only Irish man to win a European championship gold medal. At the time, Hogan was running under the English flag, having declared for the UK in 1965, citing indifferences and frustrations with the way in which Irish athletics was being run.
The Limerick man went on in 1968, again competing in the Olympic Summer games in Mexico.
In the preface of Jim’s autobiography, ‘The Irishman Who Ran For England’, Britain’s legendary distance runner David Bedford writes: “He overcame enormous odds and antipathy but he prevailed. I know Jim has no regrets about his career either.”
In a career which saw Jim Hogan set a world record for 30km on the road, running 1:32:25, and also a European Indoor three-mile record of 13:37.2 the home county of Limerick was never far from his heart. Indeed, in later years Jim returned to live in Knocklong where he passed away, peacefully this week.
Hogan is just another example of the truly great athletes and sports stars this little county produces.
Ar dheis lámh Dé go raibh a anam dílis.