CHARLIE NASH claims his induction into the Derry District Sports Council’s Hall of Fame ranks among his greatest ever achievements.
SIMON COLLINS reports
The former European and British lightweight champion, was privileged to be afforded the honour at Friday night’s awards ceremony at the City Hotel as he now completes the foursome of the city’s 1972 Olympics Games representatives already inducted.
Indeed, over a six year period, the Sports Council have been honouring Derry’s Olympians by entering them into its Hall of Fame and Nash now joins Anton Hegarty (Antwerp 1920), Liam Ball (Munich ‘72), Neil McLaughlin (Munich ‘72) and Roisin Lynch (Los Angeles ‘84) who have all been awarded their place in previous years.
Elaine McLaughlin, who took part in the 400m Hurdles in Seoul in 1988, is expected to be the last of the city’s past Olympians to be inducted in next year’s ceremony.
However, with Aileen Morrison already qualified for this summer’s Games, barring injuries, and both Jason Smyth and Ryan Harrison still hopeful of making the London 2012 Games, the members of the Hall of Fame will no doubt grow much larger in the next few years.
Nash - who still coaches in Ring A.B.C. after 29 years - was humbled when receiving the award, 40 years after participating in the Olympic Games in Munich where he was knocked out of the competition by the eventual gold medalist.
“I’m delighted after all these years, 40 years after the Olympics,” said Nash. “There was four people from Derry at the ‘72 Olympics which was a fantastic acheivement and to think after 40 years that I would be still involved in the sport and to be still receiving awards at my age is unbelievable.
“This award is up there with the best I’ve received because to get the recognition as a legend is fantastic. I started this sport as an 11 year-old because boxing was in the family but I never thought I would achieve this.
“I always wanted to win titles because boxing was a tradition in Derry and it was hard work but I enjoyed myself doing it.
“I’ve been working with young boxers in Ring A.B.C. for 29 years and we’ve had some great champions through the years and I’m just hoping to keep on going for another few years.
“My health’s not the best at the minute, I have a few aches and pains because I’m in the ring most nights and a lot of abuse doesn’t do you any favours.
“I’m still enjoying it and there’s a few boxers up there at the minute, with just a little more hard work they can go places as well.
“And people like Jason Smyth are fantastic,” he added. “I think with his determination he will get to the Olympics and he’s good enough to get there. And Aileen Morrison has already qualified which is a fantastic honour.
“The Olympics I was at were special because there was four of us. We had the late Liam Ball, Terry Watt, Neil McLaughlin and myself.
“In Derry in ‘72 I think there was a population of about 80,000 or 90,000 at the most and to have four participants at the Olympic Games that year was a great achievement for the city,” he concluded.