Brother Colm: Irish missionary, Olympians’ coach

VATICAN CITY — Irish missionary Brother Colm O’Connell won’t be in London for the Olympic Games even though — once again — one of his former students is expected to win an Olympic gold in track.


Brother Colm coached David Rudisha, who holds the world record in the 800-meter run.  Rudisha — favored to win the gold in London — was Brother Colm’s student at St. Patrick’s High School in Iten, a town in the Kenyan highlands.

A member of the missionaries of St. Patrick, Brother Colm has served in Kenya for more than 35 years. Vatican Radio interviewed him about his coaching activity, which also included coaching Peter Rono, who won an Olympic gold in 1988 in the 1,500 meters.

Like the popes and the chaplain of the Italian Olympic team featured in a CNS video today, Brother Colm sees sports as an important part of education, forming character and teaching values.

However, he told Vatican Radio, once his athletes reach the stratosphere of success, his work is done. So, he’s staying in Kenya with his students during the London Olympics.

Another interesting and inspirational sporting story ran in the English edition of L’Osservatore Romano Wednesday and in the Italian edition today. It’s written by the British ambassador to the Holy See, Nigel Baker, who recounts his personal, real life connections to the runners portrayed in the film “Chariots of Fire.” Check it out in English here.

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