SPORT: ATHLETICS [4 x 400m RELAY]
Gordon Kennedy was born on 9 MAR, 1981 at Birr Road, Shinrone, Co. Offaly – just on the other side of the Tipperary-Offaly border. His father Tommy Kennedy is from Rathcabbin, Co. Tipperary [at north tip of Co. Tipperary] and married Maureen [née Quirke] who was reared on the family farm at Shinrone. The late Councillor Martin Kennedy from Thurles who was an ambulance driver for 30 years was an uncle of Gordon Kennedy, and his son Councillor John Kennedy is Gordon Kennedy’s first cousin – as are brothers Martin and Declan Costello who played hurling for Knockshegowna GAA Club in north Tipperary. Gordon Kennedy was educated at Shinrone National School and Roscrea CBS and went to college at IT Carlow, Athlone IT [Electronic Engineering], Institute of Professional Auctioneers And Valuers [Auctioneering] and UCD [Business Studies]. His older brothers Philip and John, and sisters Imelda and Geraldine were members of the local Ballyskenach Athletic Club, and Gordon – the ‘baby’ of the family – was too small to be left at home so tagged along when he was 5 years old, and his athletics career started from there.
He joined Tullamore Harriers in 1999 and the following year when he was just 19 he was part of the Irish team in Australia when he was picked as a sub for the Irish 4 x 400m relay team at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games but he did not get to participate as all four of Ireland’s relay runners were fit to compete – they were Paul McKee [Antrim], Tomás Coman [Tipperary], Robert Daly [Dublin] and Paul Oppermann [Dublin]. The next month in October, 2000 Gordon Kennedy competed in both the 200m and 400m at the World Junior Championships in Athletics at Santiago, Chile and in the 400m he reached the semi-finals – and ten years later he competed in the 400m at the 2010 European Athletics Championships in Barcelona, Spain and again reached the semi-finals. He also competed in the 4 x 400m relay at the 2010 European Athletics Championships – he ran a fast first leg and got the team off to a great start. The team were still in third place going into the last leg but lost ground on the last leg finishing in sixth place and missing out on a place in the final. The other relay team members were Brian Murphy [Cork], Brian Gregan [Dublin] and Steven Colvert [Westmeath].
At the Irish national track & field championships Gordon Kennedy has won two 400m titles [2008 + 2010], and at the Irish Universities athletics championships he won a total of 7 titles outdoors [100m, 200m, 400m] and 10 titles indoors [60m, 200m, 400m]. His best time for 100m is 10.75 seconds  - for 200m is 21.35 seconds  - and for 400m is 46.48 seconds . He still holds the Irish junior 400m record with a time of 46.70 seconds in July 2000, a record he now shares with Brian Gregan, Dublin who ran the same time eight years later in 2008. Gordon Kennedy presently lives in Birr, Co. Offaly and works with organic food suppliers ‘Simply Wild’ – he previously worked as a rep with Diageo, was a sports instructor with Offaly Sports Partnership, once had his own sports shop in Birr, and has also worked as an auctioneer. The annual Roscrea & District Sports Star Awards are held each year to recognize the sporting achievements of those from the area who have reached their highest echelons in their chosen sport. They were first held in February 1999 for the previous sporting year – and Gordon Kennedy won the overall Sports Personality of the Year Award for both 1998 and 1999.
Next Week: Rosemary Ryan, ran 5000m at Sydney Olympics. ©Michael O’Dwyer
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