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Eamonn Coghlan Tells Incredible Pat Hickey Story In Today's Sunday Times

Eamonn Coghlan Tells Incredible Pat Hickey Story In Today's Sunday Times
By Gavin Cooney Updated

It's a good day to buy the Sunday papers, though a tricky day to be writing for them. Some of those with bylines in today's Sunday papers were given the unenviable task of compressing one of the most ludicrous weeks of Irish sport into a set number of words. (They should give this online thing a go, the internet isn't going to run out of space anytime soon).

There's been some remarkably good work done by the various heavy-hitters of the Sunday sports pages, which we'll get to in a minute. But the front cover of the Sunday Times, journalist Stephen O'Brien has done unbelievable work in extracting perhaps the most incredible Pat Hickey story of them all, via Eamonn Coghlan, the Chairman of the Boards (Ken Early recounted the same story on Second Captains live this morning if you'd prefer a vocal accompaniment).

The story goes back to 2001, precisely one week after Pat Hickey saw off Richard Burrows in the battle for the OCI presidency.

Coghlan claimed he did not openly campaign for Burrows, but it seems Pat Hickey was sure that he did, and it came to a head at a fundraising dinner. Coughlan tells the story thusly:

I said, "Hello, Pat", and he said "Coghlan, you were always a fucking loser. You were a loser in the Olympics, and you fucking voted for a loser [Burrows] and you will never be part of the Olympic movement here in Ireland. Fuck off".

Two journalists were in my company at the time and they were shocked at his comments. I went in and sat down at the dinner, and my wife knew I was rattled.

We adjourned to the bar area later. Mr. Hickey came in and bent down to schmooze my wife and give her a kiss; "Howya, Yvonne, great to see you". And she stood up and said "After what you said to my husband, you can fuck off".

I never heard her say that before nor since, and I decided I would bury that. But I have never been included in the Olympic movement in Ireland because he held that vendetta against me, as he does for everybody that crosses his path.

Emphasis ours. Coghlan famously finished fourth in the 5000m in Montreal in 1976 and Moscow in 1980 though a quick scan of his wikipedia casts immediate doubt upon the 'loser' tag. Coghlan had criticised Hickey on RTE television the year previous, a clip that we ran on the site yesterday.

Elsewhere in the Sunday Times, Denis Walsh has written a typically fine piece about the rise and fall of Hickey, recalling one extraordinary moment at the 1996 Olympics, which shows how Hickey often placed political expediency over sporting merit.

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At Atlanta, Hickey became embroiled in an argument with athletics federation BLE over gear, ending in the indignity of Sonia O'Sullivan being forced to change her kit in the holding area minutes prior to her 5,000m heat. There was further turmoil, as Walsh elucidates:

BLE couldn't get all of their medics accredited for the Games and then it emerged that Hickey had accredited an American sales manager from Reebok as part of the Irish delegation.

They were up in arms about that too. Hickey said that he was entitled to four "personal" accreditations for the Games; the optics were immaterial to him.

Reebok was one of the OCI's sponsors and it suited Hickey to sort him out.

In the Sunday Independent, Paul Kimmage tells of how Hickey became "the most hated man in Irish sport". Kimmage writes that he was evasive on the extent of his sporting success in judo:

How good was he? Well, like pretty much everything with Hickey, that's a matter of some debate. In 1996, he told The Irish Times that he narrowly missed selection for the montreal Olympics in 1976...

That was news to Matt Folen, the national coach that year, who informed Paul Howard in a profile for The Sunday Tribune that Hickey hadn't even made the shortlist that year.

Kimmage goes on to write of how litigious Hickey was, something Paul Howard backed up on twitter earlier this week:

The Sunday Times also report that the OCI will not pay any of Hickey's legal fees if he is convicted.

Hickey is currently sharing a cell with Kevin Mallon of THG, in Bangu prison. He has had his head shaved - as is sanitary procedure - but journalist Ossian Shine of Reuters revealed some troubling facts of life in the prison:

Hickey has been denied bail as he is deemed a flight risk.

[The Sunday Times and Sunday Independent]

See Also: Watch: US Runner Told He's Been Disqualified On Live TV

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