Achievements of athletic giant of Bohola recorded in biography

 

He was probably Ireland's greatest athlete and, in a career of just 10 years, including three Olympic Games, he created 16 world records, won five gold medals, three silver and one bronze. A giant of a man, he was of such a quiet nature they used say he could walk on a cigarette without cracking it.

He was Martin Sheridan from Bohola, Co Mayo, and a book about his life, The Martin Sheridan Story, was launched recently by Mayo county footballer Liam McHale in Bohola's Sheridan Memorial Community Centre. As well as the above achievements, Sheridan won 12 US national championships in athletics and 30 Canadian metropolitan and regional championships.

In 1988 he was the first Irish person to be inducted into the US National Track and Field Hall of Fame, at Indianapolis, Indiana.

The "Bohola Giant", as he was known, was born in that Mayo village on March 28th, 1881. He was 18 when he emigrated to the US, where an older brother, Richard, was a policeman in New York and a member of an athletics club in the city. At the club one evening, Martin tried discus-throwing and discovered he was better than anyone else. So began a brilliant career. He set his first world record on September 14th, 1901, with a throw of more than 120 ft. By then he had also begun to run, jump and throw weights. He created new records in the US All-Round Championships of 1905, 1907 and 1909. He took part in the St Louis Olympics (1904), the Athens Olympics (1906) and the London Olympics (1908). He won gold in the discus event each time and was regarded as the world's greatest discus thrower.

He retired from sport in 1911 and continued as a detective with the New York Police Department until he died of pneumonia in 1918 aged 37. A bronze bust of Martin was unveiled at Bohola in 1966 and an Olympic museum to commemorate his achievements is being planned for the Sheridan Memorial Hall there.

The book on his life was prepared over three years by Bernadine Malee, Patrick Bolton and Anne Mulroy. Its editing committee included Joe O'Neill, Angela Burt, Margaret Molloy, Mary O'Brien, Kevin Roughneen and the indefatigable Father Padraig Costello, parish priest of Bohola.

The Martin Sheridan Story (£7.50) is available at 094-84315.