Ron Delany : biography
Ronald Michael Delany (born 6 March 1935), better known as Ron or Ronnie Delany, is an Irish former athlete, who specialised in middle distance running. He earned a gold medal by finishing in first place in the 1500 metres event at the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne. He later earned a bronze medal in the 1500 metres event at the 1958 European Athletics Championships in Stockholm.
Delany also competed at the 1954 European Athletics Championships in Bern and the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, though was less successful on these occasions. Retiring from competitive athletics in 1962, he has secured his status as Ireland’s most recognisable Olympian as well as one of the greatest sportsmen and international ambassadors in his country’s history.
Born into a wealthy family in Arklow, County Wicklow, Delany moved with his family to Sandymount, Dublin 4 when he was six. Delany later went to one of Ireland’s leading private boys schools, Catholic University School.
Delany studied commerce and finance at Villanova University in the United States. While there he was coached by the well-known track coach Jumbo Elliott.
Now runs his own Marketing Consultancy business.
In 2006, Delany was granted the Freedom of the City of Dublin.
Was also conferred with an honorary Doctor of Laws Degree by University College Dublin in 2006.
Delany’s first achievement of note was reaching the final of the 800m at the 1954 European Athletics Championships in Bern.
In 1956, he became the seventh runner to join the club of four-minute milers, but nonetheless struggled to make the Irish team for the 1956 Summer Olympics, held in Melbourne.
Delany qualified for the Olympic 1500m final, in which home runner John Landy was the big favourite. Delany kept close to Landy until the final lap, when he started a crushing final sprint, winning the race in a new Olympic Record. Delany thereby became the first Irishman to win an Olympic title in athletics since Bob Tisdall in 1932. The Irish people learned of its new champion at breakfast time. Delany would be Ireland’s last Olympic champion for 36 years, until Michael Carruth won the gold medal in boxing at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona.
Delany won the Bronze medal in the 1500m event at the 1958 European Athletics Championships. He went on to represent Ireland once again at the 1960 Summer Olympics held in Rome, this time in the 800 metres. He finished sixth in his quarter-final.
Delany continued his running career in North America, winning four successive AAU titles in the mile, adding to his total of four Irish national titles, and three NCAA titles. He was next to unbeatable on indoor tracks over that period, which included a 40-race winning streak. He broke the World Indoor Mile Record on three occasions.
He retired from competitive running in 1962.