Characteristics of a Champion [4] – Brother O’Connell

Former Irish athlete and 5,000m world champion Eamonn Coghlan travels to Kenya’s highlands to uncover a little-known story – the role of Irish missionaries in securing Kenya’s dominance in world athletics. He meets Brother Colm O’Connell, a modest priest who played a major role in fostering Kenyan distance running and who is now considered one of the world’s top athletics coaches. Watching him train the 800m world-record holder David Rudisha, Eamonn observes at first-hand his unlikely but lasting legacy. Part travelogue, part tribute, the documentary also features an interview with Eamonn’s childhood hero, the great Olympic athlete Kip Keino.

Watch David Rudisha’s WR 800m Final London 2012 Olympics

Most impressive is how Brother O’Connell coaches the World Record holder, Olympic gold medalist, and World Champion David Rudisha to return to training with the most junior athletes. Shouldn’t the reigning 800m champion train only with the highest level athletes, only with those who will push him to his limits?  Shouldn’t an Olympian train only in the finest of facilities, in a high performance center surrounding by the latest technology, physiological testing capabilities?

Brother O’Connell knows what makes a champion a true champion, a consistent champion… the willingness to return to the basics, joy in the simplicity of sport, a humility of openness to starting from scratch over and over in an effort to refine technique even further.  That David Rudisha returns to his roots demonstrates that true champions know just as well that this is the key to success.