Ron Delany

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Ron Delany
Ron Delany 1957.jpg
Delany in 1957
Personal information
Birth nameRonald Michael Delany
Nationality Irish
Born (1935-03-06) 6 March 1935 (age 86)
Arklow, Ireland
Height184 cm (6 ft 0 in) [1]
Weight75 kg (165 lb)
Sport Athletics
Event(s)800 m, 1500 m
ClubCrusaders Athletic Club, Dublin [1]
Coached by Jumbo Elliott
Achievements and titles
Regional finals 1954 European Athletics Championships,
1958 European Athletics Championships
Olympic finals 1956 Summer Olympics,
1960 Summer Olympics
Personal best(s)800 m – 1:47.1 (1961)
1500 m – 3:41.49 (1956) [1] [2]
Updated on 29 July 2012.

Ronald Michael Delany (born 6 March 1935), better known as Ron or Ronnie Delany, is an Irish former athlete, who specialised in middle-distance running. He won a gold medal in the 1500 metres event at the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne. He later earned a bronze medal in the 1500 metres event at the 1958 European Athletics Championships in Stockholm.


Delany also competed at the 1954 European Athletics Championships in Bern and the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, though was less successful on these occasions. Retiring from competitive athletics in 1962, he has secured his status as Ireland's most recognisable Olympian as well as one of the greatest sportsmen and international ambassadors in his country's history. [3]

Early life

Born in Arklow, County Wicklow, Delany moved with his family to Sandymount, Dublin 4 when he was six. Delany later went to Sandymount High School and then to Catholic University School. At Catholic University School Delany was first coached by Jack Sweeney (Maths Teacher) to whom he sent a telegram from Melbourne stating "We did it Jack" [4] Delany in 2008 said about Sweeney "Other people would have seen my potential but he was the one who in effect helped me execute my potential" [5]

Delany studied commerce and finance at Villanova University in the United States. [6] While there he was coached by the well-known track coach Jumbo Elliott.


Delany's first achievement of note was reaching the final of the 800 m at the 1954 European Athletics Championships in Bern. In 1956, he became the seventh runner to join the club of four-minute milers, but nonetheless struggled to make the Irish team for the 1956 Summer Olympics, held in Melbourne.

Delany qualified for the Olympic 1500 m final, in which local runner John Landy was the big favourite. Delany kept close to Landy until the final lap, when he started a crushing final sprint, winning the race in a new Olympic record. [7] Delany thereby became the first Irishman to win an Olympic gold medal in athletics since Bob Tisdall in 1932. The Irish people learned of its new champion at breakfast time. [8] Delany would be Ireland's last Olympic champion for 36 years, until Michael Carruth won the gold medal in boxing at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona.

Delany won the bronze medal in the 1500 m event at the 1958 European Athletics Championships. He went on to represent Ireland once again at the 1960 Summer Olympics held in Rome, this time in the 800 metres. He finished sixth in his quarter-final heat.

Delany continued his running career in North America, winning four successive AAU titles in the mile, adding to his total of four Irish national titles, and three NCAA titles. He was next to unbeatable on indoor tracks over that period, which included a 40-race winning streak. He broke the World Indoor Mile Record on three occasions. In 1961 Delany won the gold medal in the World University games in Sofia, Bulgaria. He retired from competitive running in 1962. [8]


After retiring from competitions Delany first worked in the United States for the Irish airline Aer Lingus. After that, for almost 20 years, he was Assistant Chief Executive of B&I Line, responsible for marketing and operations of the Irish ferry company based in Dublin. In 1998 he established his own company focused on marketing and sports consultancy. [1]


In 2006, Delany was granted the Freedom of the City of Dublin. [9] He was also conferred with an honorary Doctor of Laws Degree by University College Dublin in 2006. [3] In 2019, a housing scheme in Arklow, where Delany was born, was named Delany Park in his honour. He attended the opening in person. [10] Similarly, two streets in Strabane in Northern Ireland were named Delaney Crescent and Olympic Drive in the 1950s in his honour – however, Delany was not aware of these until it was pointed out that his surname had been spelt wrongly. [11]

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  1. 1 2 3 4 Ron Delany.
  2. Ronald Delany.
  3. 1 2 "Ireland's most famous Olympian, Ronnie Delany honoured by UCD". UCD. 5 December 2006. Retrieved 5 December 2006.
  4. "Ronnie Delany Returns to Old School 1956c 1956". RTE. Retrieved 5 December 2020.
  5. [ bare URL ]
  6. "A New Irish Hero Goes Home". Sports Illustrated. 21 January 1957.
  7. "Olympic medal winners".
  8. 1 2 "Growing up on Meath eggs". Irish Identity. As for media coverage of the Melbourne Olympics, there was only one travelling journalist from this country, Arthur P. McWeeney of the Irish Independent, and people back home depended on the old BBC Light Programme for live coverage on the radio. Delany’s 1,500 metres victory was relayed to Ireland at breakfast time. Just imagine the excitement on that crackling machine as the Irishman raced to glory.
  9. "Geldof, Delany receive Dublin honour". RTÉ Sport. 5 March 2006. Archived from the original on 13 October 2012. Retrieved 5 March 2006.
  10. "Fifty five new homes were opened in Arklow". Wicklow News . 25 October 2019. Retrieved 30 August 2020.
  11. "Ronnie Delany: Irish Olympic legend learns of Strabane streets named after him 63 years on". BBC Sport. 20 May 2020. Retrieved 20 May 2020.