TRIBUTES have been paid to former Irish Olympic sprinter John McAdorey from Ballymena who has died at the age of 45.
He represented Ireland in the 4x100m relay at the Sydney Games in 2000.
Along with fellow Ballymena & Antrim athlete Paul Brizzel, McAdorey was part of a quartet whose Irish record set in Sydney of 39.26 seconds still stands.
“This is very sad news. He was a very popular member of the team,” said ex-Ireland team manager Patsy McGonagle.
“He was on several teams when I was manager – most notably at the Sydney Olympics when the 4x100m relay squad set that national record which remains to this day.
“John was a very good team man. He started off in athletics quite young, then drifted away from the sport for a time but came back to become an Olympian and that was a tremendous achievement for him,” the BBC reports.
Like Brizzel, McAdorey’s talent was nurtured by renowned Ballymena & Antrim coach, and a former Olympian herself, Maeve Kyle who formed a legendary coaching team at the club along with her husband Sean for more than 50 years.
Maeve, now 91, was coach of the Irish relay squad at the 2000 Games in Sydney when the two Ballymena men were joined by Gary Ryan and Tom Comyns in the record-breaking performance.
McAdorey celebrated his birthday during a pre-games training camp at Newcastle near Sydney and his Irish team-mates organised a party to celebrate the occasion.
In the same week, McAdorey clocked the fastest 100m of his life as he posted a wind-assisted 10.28 seconds although his quickest legal time was a 10.45 clocking in 2002 when he was disappointed to miss out on selection for Northern Ireland’s Commonwealth Games team.
The Ballymena man won the Irish 100m title at Santry in 2001 after triumphing in the 60m at the national indoor championships earlier that year.
Work commitments were to bring a premature end to his career although he returned to the sport in the middle part of the current decade in a coaching capacity as he helped develop the talent of young local sprinter Lauren Roy.
McAdorey’s fellow former Northern Ireland athletes Paul McKee and Eddie King were among those to pay tribute to the Ballymena man.
“I often shared a room with John on internationals and we had a great laugh,” said 2003 world indoor 400m bronze medallist McKee.
“His popularity was evident at Sean Kyle’s funeral in 2015 when a long list of Irish internationals who hadn’t seen John for quite a while flocked over to him to say hello.
“One really nice moment the stands out happened on our way to the Olympic Stadium in Sydney.
“We could see Julian Golding, who was Commonwealth 200m gold medallist at the time. He stopped him and said: ‘Are you John McAdorey? So pleased to meet you, you were one of my inspirations growing up’. We were both shocked, and John was so happy.”
King, a fellow Ballymena native, recalled tough cross country training sessions alongside McAdorey during their teenage days.
“He used to kick my ass and the other middle distance runners in the 600m reps,” said the former Great Britain international.
“He was an incredible talent. Sean [Kyle] always thought he could have run a fast 400m but he stuck with the shorter events.”
A notice on the Funeral Times website said: ‘Adorey, September 25th 2019 (Peacefully) At The Cancer Centre Belfast City Hospital, John (Aged 45 Years). Dearly Loved Partner of Julie and Loving Daddy of Conor and Callum, 19 Station Road, Cullybackey.
‘Loving Son of Matthew and Marian, Brother of Kerri, Lyndsey and Joshua, Step Father of Emma and Her Husband Paul, Son-In-Law of Elaine, Brother-In-Law of Michael.
‘Service in Stevenson’s Funeral Home 30 Cushendall Road Ballymena on Saturday at 2pm. Followed By Interment in Cullybackey New Cemetery.
‘Family Flowers Only Please Donations if Desired For Melanoma UK c/o James Stevenson and Son (Address As Above).
‘Will Be Lovingly Remembered By His Sorrowing Family and The Entire Family Circle.’