id1696-Jim Hogan 1933-2015

Written by David Barrington   

The Club is sad to have to report the passing of Polytechnic Harriers’ 1964 & 1968 Olympian,1966 European Marathon Champion,World and European record-holder and Life Member. He died on Saturday,January 10th,aged 81.

Jim was a more than lively contributor to international and national races in Ireland and then Great Britain colours,as well as in domestic competiton in Poly’s familiar Grenat and Cream vest for much of the 1960s.

Many UK contemporaries will have their own,sometimes extravagant,often hilarious,mostly uncompromising tales to tell,and memories, of Jim,for sure. There will,no doubt,be many of Tony Maxwell’s Athletes Reunited connoisseurs,amongst others,recalling their encounters in the coming days.

The following Tribute from Irish journalist,Ian O’Riordan,admirably sums up the man and his achievements,and was kindly passed on by Surrey statistician and journalist,Dave Cocksedge. It is reproduced here with sincere acknowledgements to Ian.

“The only thing we knew for sure about Jim Hogan was that his name wasn’t actually Jim Hogan. He was born Jim Cregan,in Croom Hospital,Limerick,on May 28th 1933,and if not one of Ireland’s most successful distance runners,he was certainly one of our most enigmatic.

In 1960,when first moving to England to find work,he changed his surname to Hogan; over the next four years he made several international appearances for Ireland,most famously at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo,where he was the last man left chasing defending marathon champion,Abebe Bekila,from Ethiopia. All Hogan had to do was to stay on his feet,keep moving forward,and an Olympic silver medal was his. Then,just after 23 miles,he dropped out,truly dehydrated.

Two years later,at the European Athletics Championships in Budapest,Hogan truly conquered the distance,winning the marathon title in 2.20.04 – still the only Irish man to win a European championship gold medal. Hogan,however,was actually wearing a British vest,having switched allegiance in 1965 due to his increasing dissatisfaction with the officialdom of irish athletics.

Hogan also ran the 1968 Olympic marathon,again as part of the British team. This and other issues were the subject of his book(q.v.) – The Irishman Who Ran for England – published in 2008. In the preface,Britain’s legendary distance runner David Bedford writes - “He(Jim) overcame enormous odds and antipathy but he prevailed. I know Jim has no regrets about his career either”. During that period,Hogan also set a world record for 30Km on the road,running 1:32:25,and also a European Indoor 3 Miles record of 13.37.2.

In his later years,after retiring from the sport and spending some further time in England,he returned to Limerick,settling in Knocklong,and after the death of his wife,Mary,dedicated much of his life to the horse racing world,breaking and training”.

David Barrington.

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