Drop Down Menu


Moville man’s Olympic adventure 27.08.08

Beijing resident witnesses Irish boxing triumphs

by Simon McGeady, Inishowen Independent

WHEN the Olympic Games came to his adoptive home town earlier this month, Moville man Derek Doherty was in sporting heaven. He had seen the mighty Olympic venues go up over the last handful of years and to finally be able to sit in the stunning Bird's Nest stadium and watch the best athletes in the world compete was a great privilege.
The Beijing resident took in a wide range of sports during the sixteen days of competition starting with boxing on August 9.
“I saw some tidy fights and the atmosphere was decent. Best part is that the venue is only five minutes from my apartment,” said the 33 year old, who returned to the venue on several occasions over the two weeks to cheer on the Irish boxers.
The Bird's Nest Olympic Stadium and inset Derek Doherty. Next up was the beach volleyball, which he described as ‘a big slice of cheese but good cheese.’
“The atmosphere was like you'd imagine it is at Spring Break in the States, only with a lot of Chinese people having wandered into things by mistake. We'd great seats up at the front and the weather was good.”
On the first Friday of the games, 
Derek, who works at the Swedish Embassy in Beijing, went to the Bird's Nest with his father-in-law.
“I was bouncing with excitement and it did not disappoint. The Water Cube and the Nest – all you can do is marvel. I could hear the noise as I was making my way up the last bit of steps and then it opened up before me and what a view, 91,000 people sitting comfortable in this gorgeous arena. We were high up but right above the finish line for the 100m. We saw [Usain] Bolt cruise to the finish in his heat.”
The middle Sunday of the games he attended cycling at the velodrome.
“We arrived just as the British woman won gold and was up against the railings hugging her family, which just happened to be at the top of the steps that we'd come bounding up. I'm sure there are TV pictures of two stupid heads barging into this very emotional family moment. Anyway, the cycling was great. It's lots of cat and mouse stuff before they finally go-hell-for-leather and the speed is amazing,” said Derek, who witnessed the British team break the world record in the team pursuit.
The following Tuesday it was back to the boxing ring to see Paddy Barnes win Ireland’s first medal of the games.
“We were in the venue by 7.03 and saw the last three rounds. [Barnes] was a bit cagey, but won comfortable enough to guarantee a bronze medal. There was good crowd of Irish making lots of noise, maybe 30 of us.”
He didn’t get to see Kenny Egan’s fight a couple of hours later as he’d headed across to the Workers Stadium for the Olympics semi-final between Brazil and Argentina. “The first half wasn't much but the second was electric. Both Ronaldinho and Messi showed some great bits of skill. But the Argies thoroughly deserved it. In the end the whole ground were on their feet shouting in Chinese 'Class is over, time to go home Brazil'... which is their way of saying you've just been spanked,” added Derek.
All that remained to cap an unforgettable experience was for Kenny Egan to take gold against Zhang Xiaoping at the Worker Gymnasium. Alas, it was not to be.
“I was devastated to see Egan lose the final, although I'm pretty sure we made more noise than the Chinese did!”
Return to > News