A Laois man will make his own piece of history this summer when he becomes the first Irish gymnastics judge at the Olympic Games in London.
Denis Donoghue from Portlaoise has been judging mens gymnastics internationally for 20 years and he describes being selected as a judge for the Olympics as the highlight of his career.
Speaking to the Leinster Express this week, Denis said it was an honour to be chosen.
“I’m thrilled. It’s an honour for me and for Irish gymnastics. To be the first Irish judge is a great honour. It’s very nice to be selected.”
Judges are selected by the International Gymnastics Federation and Denis outlined what he can expect when he gets to London.
“The gymnastics takes place in the 02 arena which used to be the Millenium Dome. The judges will be staying in a hotel near the arena. There are four different competitions over the six pieces. Because they only bring the judges they need, all judges are guaranteed to be used.”
Denis could be judging on any of the six apparatus and while he admits there will be some added pressure, he is very much looking forward to the experience.
“I have judged at the Olympic qualifiers in Tokyo and London so I have seen the competitors before and I’d know their routines. You are aware that the eyes of the world are on you because it’s the Olympics but It’s the chance of a lifetime and I’m looking forward to it. This is the icing on the cake.”
The way the gymnastics is scheduled, Denis will have every second day off as the women are in action. He is hoping to catch some of the other sports in his spare time.
“Hopefully the accreditation will allow us access to other events. I’d like to see some of the swimming and athletics. It’s great being part of such an event. I definitley have a job to do at the gymnastics but I’m going to enjoy the whole experience.”