(Image Paul Askins, Dooneen AC)
LIMERICK OLYMPIAN Tom Comyns is the latest athlete to be commemorated in the Limerick Olympic Trails series. At the opening ceremony on Saturday March 28, 2015 of The Tom Comyns trail – the fifth to be officially opened – Tom was joined by his wife Sarah and daughter Aayla among family, friends and local dignitaries including LAC Vice-Chair Tom Foley.
The Tom Comyns Trail runs from UL’s Thomond Bridge on the southside of the campus where the Shannon River bank is on the left hand side and Dromroe Student Village on the right hand side heading towards Plassey, the trail start can be seen by clicking here.
LAC Vice-Chair Tom Foley and the Comyns Family of Sarah, AAyla and Tom (Image Paul Askins, Dooneen AC)
As a juvenile athlete the young Comyns wore the singlet of Dooneen AC and as a senior athlete Tom graduated to the ranks of Limerick Athletic Club and from here his international career began. He competed at the World Junior Championships in 1990 held in Plodiv, Bulgaria – the first of his international meets and over an impressive twelve years service to athletics he competed at both the World University Championships and World Senior Championships in 1997. The following year he qualified for the European Indoor Championships and later in 2001 he was at the World Senior Championships once more.
It was Tom’s Olympic appearance, however, that he was particularly honoured for with this trail and in September 2000 in Sydney, Australia, Tom wore the Irish singlet when he lined out with Tom McAdorey, Gary Ryan and Paul Brizzle in the Men’s 4x100m Relay. Comyns posted a personal best of 10.24secs over 100m in this event and the team recorded a new National Record of 39.26secs which still stands to this day.
Tom was a standard member of the Irish 4x100m and 4x400m Relay teams over his entire athletic career and has amassed almost 40 gold medals representing the University of Limerick not to mention a plethora of medals and trophies collected over the years while running with Dooneen, LAC and Ireland.
The Tom Comyns Trail getting its first official run (Image Paul Askins, Dooneen AC)
The Limerick Olympic Trails were launched in 2012 to honour the nine Limerick Olympians and were the brainchild of LAC’s Ronnie Long, Henry Kiely and Tom Foley along with SFADCo’s Kevin O’Connor. The trails are placed on already popular running routes with the aim of providing good quality running trails that are safe to access and the hope is they will encourage larger numbers of people to take up running, in particular local school children.
Six of the nine Olympians were members of Limerick Athletic Club. The first trail was launched in 2012 in Adare, Co Limerick in honour of local Olympian Niall O’Shaughnessy who competed at Montreal in 1976.
This was followed by the Neil Cusack Trail which runs along the Condell Road. Cusack was a two-time Olympian at Munich 1972 and Montreal 1976. Then the Mick O’Shea Trail was opened from Athlunkard Bridge to the Canal Lock at Clare Street in honour of his 1980 appearance at the Moscow Olympics. The final trail opened before Comyns Trail was the Frank O’Mara Trail running from the University of Limerick to the Canal Lock at Clare Street. O’Mara had three Olympic outings in Los Angeles 1984, Seoul 1988 and Barcelona 1992.
Four more trails are to be completed. The Jim (Cregan) Hogan Trail – Tokyo 1964 & Mexico 1968 is planned for Bruff Co Limerick. Unfortunately Jim passed away recently. Cappamore is the proposed site for the Rosemary Ryan Trail – Sydney 2000. And Seoul 1988 athlete Barbara Johnson will be honoured with her own trail along the Great Southern Trail in Rathkeale and the final proposed trail will honour the 1928 Amsterdam Olympian Denis Cussen in Newcastle West.
One of the main driving forces behind the Olympic Trails is LAC Vice-Chair Tom Foley and a special word of appreciation is extended to him from the entire athletic community throughout Limerick city and county.
Speaking at the launch Tom Foley said: “We would like to thank all at Limerick Athletic Club for sponsoring the signs and making sure that these trails happened. I would like to thank Limerick City and County Council for their assistance in erecting the signs, along with UL and the many other people and bodies that have worked together on this project since its inception in 2012. We hope to get these trails completed within the next year, and we look forward to working with and having the assistance of the local communities and Limerick City and County Council.”