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Chinese swimmer drug controversy recalls Michelle Smith - Irish Olympic gold medal winner got raw deal and still does

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Michelle Smith
The Olympics are in full swing these days. Actually it’s very hard to get away from them if you’re not a sports fan. The races are shot for TV especially swimming.

Controversy and suspicion are never too far from the doors of these games. Any sign of brilliance is questioned and this is wrong. We expect brilliance at the Olympics, that’s what they are there for.

I was watching the 16-year-old Ye Shiwen from China win the 200 and 400 meter races. She was outstanding; you know what this was one of the high points for me so far. To see her take off in the last 50 meters. This is what the Games are all about for me. This is the stage to do it on.

In the case of Ye Shiwen and many more in the public eye through some media you are guilty until proven innocent! This is very wrong and something needs to be done about, what I don’t know.

Michelle Smith left Atlanta, Georgia, in 1996 with three gold and one bronze medal. She passed all the tests and still to this day she’s left in the ha’penny place. More controversy followed two years later. Michelle still has her Olympic medals, which would suggest that she is innocent; also she didn’t break any Olympic or World records while obtaining them.

On the other side people were questioning and comparing her previous times to that of what she swam at the games. So why was she targeted? Was it jealousy from other swimmers? It’s hard to say! I did a TV show with Michelle Smith a few years back and got to know her.

She is a quiet and very unassuming person. We spoke of the 1996 Games and she told me that she was one of the fittest people in the Olympic village that year, and I believe her! She never showboated and only said how hard she had trained especially the year before. I told her how I saw grown men in Kruger’s pub in Dun Chaoin where I worked at the time cry when she won; she was very touched by this.

Do I believe Michelle Smith? Yes I do! But you can make up your own mind. She should have been part of the "Irish Olympic experience" if I can call it that, but no we were afraid to go there!

RTE sports broadcaster Bill O'Herlihy was in the papers here about some of his comments last week, when he referred to badminton as a sport played by Protestants in the 1950’s. There were some noses out of joint because of it. I went to find out who exactly was giving out and nobody seemed to know, but there was a lot of noise over nothing if you ask me. Big deal if it was mostly or even all if the case may be Protestants that played badminton at that time. You could say that is mostly Catholics that played Gaelic football then and now, would I be offended at this? Not in the slightest! It’s PC gone up the left at together.

I found the fact of what Bill said very interesting and took it in an historical context, the context in which it was meant I’d imagine. Just an added bit of trivia, I think Bill’s wife may belong to the Church of Ireland!

Something similar happen me the first year hosting the Rose of Tralee. I was on stage with Sarah Felong the Southern California Rose. She told me she was a celiac. I called her a fussy eater, jokingly. We received complaints the following day saying I was insensitive and that I shouldn’t be talking about a condition that I didn’t understand. The fact being my brother and niece both have this "condition" along with my wife.

To all celiac (fussy eaters) and not celiac Roses leaving the States and all over the world this week for Tralee, have a safe trip we are getting ready here for you!

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