27 Nov 2021

Famous Tipperary Olympian Tom Kiely was born on this day 151 years ago

Gold medal winner at Olympic Games in 1904

Tom Kiely

Olympic Games gold medal winner Tom Kiely was born on August 25 1869

Athlete Tom Kiely was born in Ballyneale, Carrick-on-Suir on August 25 1869.

Tom Kiely won the gold medal in the 1904 Summer Olympics held in St Louis, Missouri in the all-round event, which consisted of the 100 yard run, shot putt, high jump, 880 yard walk, hammer throw, pole vault, 120 yard hurdles, 56 pounds weight throw, long jump and one mile run. 

Kiely was 34 at this time. The British team had approached him with promises of his fare and expenses and American sponsorship was also offered but, as a committed nationalist, he decided to go on his own, representing his native country.

He raised the fare to America partly by selling many of the prizes he had won over the years, and sailed for the United States at the end of May.

In America he had several more offers to join the American or British teams. But again he declined and made it clear in statements carried in all the American papers of the time that he would only represent Ireland in the Olympic Games.

As Ireland was not independent in 1904, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) lists him as representative of the team of Great Britain and Ireland at the 1904 Summer Olympics.

Kiely was from Ballyneale, near Carrick-on-Suir. He achieved his gold medal in 1904 to become the first multi-event track champion in the modern Olympic Games. All ten events were held on the same day.

For more Tipperary sport read Warning that Tipperary GAA club championships may not be completed

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