IRELAND’S athletes are being celebrated for the endurance they displayed at London 2012 but none of them can touch Limerick’s Maurice Brazill – the 85-year-old has attended an incredible eight Olympic Games!
Maurice, who is from Martinstown, Kilmallock, first caught the Olympics bug when he secured tickets for the Rome Olympics in 1960.
There, he saw an 18-years-old, Cassius Clay in action. The young boxer took gold and would later change his name to Muhammad Ali.
“He was the greatest. The best ever I would say,” recalled Maurice from his home in Martinstown this week.
The tranquility of Maurice’s home in Martinstown is far removed from the buzz and brights lights of the Olympic stadium in London where he was last week.
The boxing and athletics fanatic has also been to the Olympics in Rome, Munich, Montreal, Moscow, Los Angeles, Korea, and Barcelona.
His unique story even caught the attention – if by chance - of the BCC World News - who happened upon the pensioner when out and about in London. It was Maurice’s cap which caught their eye.
“I have badges on it since 1960 from all the different countries. I was near the athletics stadium with my nephew John O’Donoghue who lives in Oxford when they approached me. I was put in a van and taken to the studios. I was on air within a quarter of an hour.”
During the interview, Maurice produced a clipping from a newspaper of John Flanagan who won gold in the hammer throw in the 1900, 1904 and 1908 Olympics.
“He was from Martinstown in County Limerick, where I am from, and JP McManus, the horseman,” Maurice told reporter Lucy Hockings of the BBC.
“I had a photo of John Flanagan’s monument at Martinstown Church with me and of course that was very important,” Maurice later told the Leader.
Maurice who was one, two, three and four mile champion of Limerick and three mile champion of Munster in the late 1940s early 1950s had the privilege of witnessing the modern day “greatest”, Usain Bolt, cross the finishing line in London.
And while Bolt did so in his high performance Puma trainers, in Maurice’s day, it wasn’t usual to run in your bare feet.
Shoes or no shoes, Bolt, he says is “a natural” – both in terms of running and showmanship.
“He is so much ahead of the rest. He has time to look at both sides of him when he is going to the line,” said Maurice.
He also got to see “the English girl who won the heptathlon” - Jessica Ennis.
“Anything she did, she did it well,” observed the astute Maurice.
When asked to choose the most memorable of the eight Olympics he has attended, Maurice said Rome, Moscow and Korea are the one that hold the fondest memories. “There were some outstanding events there,” he noted.
London, he added, was “very good” and he was particularly pleased with the performance of the Irish boxers.
Unfortunately, he didn’t get to see the great Katie Taylor in action - “but she is in a class of her own,” he noted.
There is however, always Rio. Is it a bit too far? asked Lucy Hockings of the BBC.
“There is no place too far,” smiled Maurice.