Everything’s Rosie at Olympics 2012

Derry triathelete Aileen Morrison with Burt's Rosie Byrne (Photographer: Martin Byrne)

Derry triathelete Aileen Morrison with Burt's Rosie Byrne (Photographer: Martin Byrne)

  • by Catherine McGinty

One young woman from Burt will not forget her trip to the 2012 Olympic Games in a hurry.

Six-year-old Rosie Byrne travelled to London with her mum Bridgeen and dad Martin to cheer on Derry triathlete, Aileen Morrison.

However, according to Mr Byrne the real drama unfolded as the Toulette family watched the men’s triathlon in Hyde Park.

He said: “We arrived really early and got a great vantage point. I was stretched out over the barrier taking photographs of the cycling when two of the triathletes collided and fell of their bicycles. They were about 20 feet away but they tumbled towards us at high speed. I grabbed Rosie and pulled her back from the barrier just as Canadian triathlete Simon Whitfield crashed into it, injuring himself quite badly.

“Rosie became very upset when she saw Mr Whitfield was bleeding. Unbelievably he noticed her distress and hobbled over to us to reassure her he was fine. The man who won a gold medal in Sydney, at the inaugural Olympic triathlon and a silver medal in Beijing, knew in that instant he was out of the 2012 Olympics but his first concern was to comfort a crying child. I found that incredible.”

Mrs Byrne said Simon Whitfield asked Rosie what age she was and where she was from.

She said: “His voice was so calm. He just kept chatting to Rosie, telling her about his own two youngsters. I was completely humbled by his sportsmanship and graciousness. He was a gentleman, an amazing athlete and a very genuine person.

“When the Team Canada medics had dressed his wounds, Mr Whitfield came back and gave Rosie some lovely souvenirs. Both Martin and I were really touched by his kindness. We could not thank him enough. It is a measure of his popularity that the Team Canada athletes chose him to be their country’s flag-bearer at the Olympics 2012 opening ceremony.”

Keen runners themselves, the Byrnes were delighted when they also managed to obtain tickets for the men’s five thousand kilometre race in the Olympic stadium.

Mr Byrne described the atmosphere as phenomenal.

He said: “We were sitting six rows from the front watching Mo Farah competing. The crowd was ecstatic. The noise was deafening. Athletics just does not get any better than that.”




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