Friday, 2 August 2013

Terry O'Gara

I've managed to salvage my post I made a while ago about Terry O'Gara, or TOG.
Here it is...

The words ‘legend’, ‘inspirational’ and ‘hero’ are words sometimes banded around when people talk about sportsmen and women and dare I say; on occasions these words are used with no credibility or substance at all.
There is however one gentleman who can be regarded as a legend, inspirational and a hero with 100% certainty and he is Terry O’Gara.

I first met Terry on a hot July evening at my very first Wallsend Harriers meeting.  He asked if I was able to run for 60 mins which I was; however I wasn’t prepared for the pace!  Needless to say I struggled but Terry insisted I come along again, stick with it and see when happens after a few weeks.  That was my first encounter with Terry and even then I thought, what a nice bloke.
Over the following weeks and months I quickly realised how much respect people had for him.  Here’s a bloke of 65+ years, running his socks off, getting his group through the tough Tuesday night hill sessions, pushing then hard, making them work and heaping masses of praise on them.
On numerous occasions following a race I would ask him how he done; he would quickly say  something like, “ok” or “went well” and immediately ask me, or others how they done.  He was very modest about his running exploits, instead asking how other people done.  (by the way, at age 69 he did the Great North Run in 1:32:11)
I’ll not go into the History of Wallsend Harriers here (click here for the history) i’ll just add that Terry was one of the driving forces in the mid 80′s, reviving Wallsend Harriers, putting them back on the North East harriers map and subsequently helping to improve North East athletics as a whole.
A fantastic personality, cheeky humour (verging on sexist??  nah, not ‘wor Terry.  “there’s too many women in the club”  ), fantastic running achievements, a motivator, selfless, an inspiration to all standards of runners, a dedicated family man and a really, really decent bloke who I will miss loads.
I only knew him for three years or so but it feels like i’ve known him for a lot longer.
Every time I pull on my Wallsend Harrier vest and take up my familiar ‘middle of the pack’ starting position I’ll be looking skywards and smile; knowing that Terry will be pushing me along when the going gets tough.
So then…a legend, an inspiration and a hero.  As I mentioned earlier, theses words are afforded to many people. Some deserving of the accolade and some not so much.  These words however ARE Terry O’Gara and so much more.

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