AN 85-year-old Limerick marathon runner is set to feature in an exciting new TV series which unearths the secrets as to how senior athletes perform to such high levels despite their age.
Garryowen man Phonsie Clifford will be the first athlete featured in the new six-part sports entertainment series, Super Fit Seniors, which will be shown free-to-air on Setanta Ireland on this Monday night, April 11, at 7.30pm.
The series is presented by former Olympic and world champion athlete, Eamonn Coghlan (63) who remains fascinated with people of all ages putting their bodies to the test through sport.
Phonsie, father of well-known athlete Richie, has said that his athletic stride can be attributed to drinking two cans of Guinness every night, eating plenty of carrots and a hard boiled egg each day.
Phonsie Clifford explained that the makers of the series had approached him about making the programme after he won the over 80s section of the Dublin City Marathon in 2014.
“The called down to see me last June along with Eamonn Coghlan and they filmed my day. Eamon asked me about a typical training week. I was doing over 40 miles a week training at that stage. I step up the training from about May for the Dublin City Marathon.
“Myself and Eamonn Coghlan went for a run then around Garryowen Green. We jogged around there and the camera filmed us.
“We also visited my wife’s grave for the programme and from there we went to UL where we went training again. On another day, they also filmed me at my son’s house in Lisnagry.
“Last October then for the Dublin City Marathon, they followed my progress through the race. I started out at the front of the group and passing through each station they were filming me and talking to me.
“They got me coming into the finish line and Eamonn interviewed me after the race. He is a very nice guy.”
Phonsie, who worked as a butcher, will run his ‘24th or 25th’ Dublin City Marathon next October. He has also won the Ballycotton Road Race in Cork six times in a row in the over-80s section.
Phonsie has also taken part in marathons in London as well as several in Limerick.
“I plan to do the 10k with my grandchildren in the Great Limerick Run in a few weeks time. I will have a race on to beat them,” Phonsie said.
“There are more and more people of all ages out running now. People are being warned by doctors and on the TV about the need for exercise and about what they should eat. Food has a lot to do with it.
“So too does drink and smoking. People stop me when I am out running and say they would love to be able to do it. They say they hope they will be able to be out running at almost 85. I tell them they can do it. It is up to themselves.
“I couldn’t walk 20 yards when I was 62. I never did any exercise. I only took up exercise at that age. I was 13 stone back then and I am 10 stone now. That is my proper weight.
“From starting out at 62, doing exercise came naturally to me. I kept at it. I walked out to Birdhill one day and back. That was 24 miles. My feet were raw when I came back.
“I kept going at it. I was able to walk faster than a man jogging one time. I started jogging then. I did the Dublin marathon when I was 70 years old in 4 hours 28 minutes. I ran my first marathon at age 62.
“So far so good when my joints. I don’t take medication, nothing. I get check-ups all the time from the doctor and the hospital. But nothing has showed up.
“I collect a lot of money for Milford Hospice. Last October I collected €2,750 which I presented to them along with the cheque I got for winning my section of the Dublin City Marathon.
“I have been collecting for Milford Hospice for the past 25 years. I have €45,000 in all collected between punts and euro.”
Limerick power lifter Gerry McNamara (65) will feature on Monday, April 25, while the others to feature are racing driver Brian Cullen (72), indoor rowing champion Richard Morgan (85), cyclist Kevin Sims (84) and sailor Leonard McKay (82).
- Limerick runner Phonsie Clifford will feature in the first of the Super Fit Seniors sports entertainment series on Setanta Ireland this Monday night, April 11 at 7.30pm