Legendary Irish athlete Jim McNamara has died aged 76

SportBy Sean McGoldrick
Jim McNamara
Jim McNamara

The death has taken place of Jim McNamara, one of the legendary figures in Irish distance running.

The Dubliner ran in the Olympic marathon in Montreal in 1976 at the age of 37 but his involvement in athletics spanned more than six decades.

A member of Donore Harriers Athletic Club, he was one of the key figures in the club’s unprecedented achievement in winning 16 consecutive national cross country titles.

During this period he represented Ireland in four World cross country championships.

He won his first Irish title over three miles in 1964 and he also competed in the steeplechase running the distance in a Euro Cup meeting in Santry.

The pinnacle of his senior career came in 1976 when  he qualified for the Olympics by knocking eight minutes of his personal best for 26.2 mile event when finishing second to Danny McDaid in 2:14.57 in the National championships. In Montreal, McNamara finished 39th in 2:24.57, three places ahead of McDaid.

Once he graduated to the veteran class when he turned 40, he enjoyed unprecedented success at national and international level setting more than a dozen Irish masters records at distances ranging from 1500m on the track to 10km on the road.

He won 11 gold, five silver and four bronze medals at World and European level and held the world M45 record for 1,500m.

In recent years he set Irish M75 records in the 1500m and 5,000m on the track as well as in the 5km and 10km on the road. He continued to compete at the highest level and ran for Ireland in the Home Countries Masters’ cross country championships late last year.

Universally referred to in running circles as Jim Mc, he coached the Donore Harriers’ women’s distance teams for more than 20 years.