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The compelling story of Irish hammer throwing great Pat O'Callaghan


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At the controversial 1936 Olympics, Irishman Pat O'Callaghan was not only regarded as the best hammer thrower in the world. He had a track record of success.

So why was the Co Cork native sitting in the stands in Berlin as a spectator and unable to defend the Olympic gold medals he had won in 1928 and 1932?

UCD professor of history Irish history and Sports history Paul Rouse joined Joe for our latest chat about successful Irish sportspeople who have become somewhat forgotten in the mists of time.

O'Callaghan had a "fascinating life" as Rouse told Joe and the fascination spanned beyond sport for an athlete who passed away aged 85 in 1991.

While one would assume that his absence in 1936 was down to the fact that the Olympics were staged in Berlin at a time when Adolf Hitler and the Nazis ruled Germany in the pre-World War II period, Rouse explains how O'Callaghan missed out on participating for altogether different reasons rooted in a local dispute related to the issue of partition.

Such was his superstar status too in the era, that O'Callaghan was given a tour of the MGM Studios in Los Angeles and was offered the role of Tarzan which he subsequently turned down. Although Rouse did share a tale about the man who did eventually take the role that connected him to Dublin Zoo.

But there was also tragedy, with an accident involving a flying hammer which resulted in the death of a young child in unclear circumstances just before World War II. Subsequently, O'Callaghan moved to the USA for a time where he moved into professional wrestling.


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