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Friday, 22 March, 2002, 10:14 GMT
Treacy's golden moment
John Treacy during his silver medal run in the Los Angles Olympic marathon
Treacy's gold medal made him a hero in Ireland
BBC Sport Online's John Haughey talks to Irish running legend John Treacy in the run-up to weekend's World Cross Country Championship in Dublin

As Ireland welcomes many of the world's best distance runners, it seems fitting that John Treacy occupies arguably the most important role in Irish sport.

The world cross country champion from 1978 and 1979 is chairman of the Irish Sports Council, the myriad roles of which include allocating funding to the various national governing bodies.

You cannot please all of the people all of the time and inevitably, the government body and Treacy do come in for criticism on occasions.

I can remember that cheer and the look on Leon Schots' face as I took the lead
John Treacy

But to the vast bulk of the Irish public, Treacy remains a true sporting hero.

On the last occasion the World Cross Country Championships were staged in the Republic of Ireland in 1979, Treacy was cheered to victory by an ecstatic 30,000 crowd at Limerick racecourse.

A year earlier, a 20-year-old Treacy had stunned even himself by winning his first world title in Glasgow.

But to the Irish people, two days from Treacy's career stick out - his win in Limerick and silver medal at the 1984 Olympic marathon in Los Angeles.

Treacy has almost total recall of his 1979 victory.

''I can remember the wind and rain. I can remember the crowd, which was huge.

''They really lifted me and my performance that day,'' said Treacy.

''There was one moment in the race on the far side of the course when I went into the lead for the first time and I can remember that cheer and the look on Leon Schots' face as I took the lead.


''That will be a lasting memory that will always stay with me.''

Even in those days, there were intense media demands in the week before the race, with journalists from all over the world wanting to talk to the defending champion and home hope.

''But your confidence comes from your preparation and your training.

''The gun goes and you get off the line and you take it from there.

''I absolutely believed I was going to win that day.''

Long Course champion Paula Radcliffe is Britain's great hope in Dublin
Champion Paula Radcliffe will bring out the crowds

Treacy admits that even he had been surprised by his win in Glasgow a year earlier.

''It caught me on the hop as well as I was really hoping for top six in Scotland.

''But I found myself in the top three and we had got away from everyone else, and in that situation you are always going to have a go at winning.

''I managed to open up a gap and I kept it going. I didn't expect it but when it arrives at your door you grab it.''

At least his win in Glasgow got his world cross country celebrations out of the way.

''I had done Glasgow and the week after Glasgow in Ireland and all those celebrations.

''When it came to Limerick. I did the business and got on a plane back to America the next day.

''I think that kind of tells you its own story,'' said the 43-year-old Treacy.

His other big moment on the world stage came in the warmer climes of Los Angeles, at the 1984 Olympics.

Irish people love sport and they love sport on the world stage
John Treacy
Few people even knew that Treacy had entered for the marathon.

He had not run a competitive marathon and went into the race on the back of finishing a disappointing 13th in the 10,000m final.

But Treacy had prepared diligently.

''I'd known a little bit about pressure and one way to keep it off was to keep my mouth shut.''

The race concluded with Portugal's three-times world cross country champion Carlos Lopez winning gold and Treacy (2:09.56) taking silver, two seconds ahead of Britain's Charlie Spedding.

''You strive for an Olympic medal all your life. It was great to get the medal. Training wise and in the race itself, the effort was huge.

''But we did the business, and in doing so I suppose I lifted the Irish people.


''The Irish people get a tremendous buzz out of those kind of performances in any sport, and that's tremendous, a privilege actually.''

Treacy is convinced this weekend's championships will be a success.

''I've no doubt the crowd will turn out on Saturday and Sunday.

''Irish people love sport and they love sport on the world stage.

''We'll have Sonia (O'Sullivan) competing and Paula Radcliffe not to mention the Kenyan distance runners and the Moroccans.''

John Treacy will shake the hands of all the medal winners and his mind will doubtless wander back to another great day on an Irish racecourse.

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