Professor Kingston Mills of Athletic Fame

With all this available time on our hands we all find ourselves looking at far more Television than is customary.

TV listings, which I once Green binned with undue haste now receive the respect once reserved for Fixture lists.

A realisation that there is only so many times you can revisit Premier League Years and How The Open (pick a year) was Won, has made the latest SKY Sports subscription postponement offer increasingly attractive.

So the musings of Brolly, O’Rourke, Sadlier, Brady, Carra and Neville that in turn amuse, enrage and entertain are gone for now.

Coronavirus has introduced into our lives a far weightier and meaningful debate. And a new level of discourse, professorial and authoritative.

Enter Tony Holohan, Paddy Mallon, Colm Henry, Kingston Mills and Gabriel Scally. Analysts fully on top of their brief, knowledgeable and informative. Our leaders in this battle. They make us feel safe.

And my own favourite, Sam McConkey. I hang on his every word.

It’s with Professor Kingston Mills we feel the real connection. From the position of Head of Immunology in Trinity College he has on airwaves and TV screens preached common sense, reason and advice in equal measure and become one of the nation’s great sounding boards.

One look at his lean and hungry visage, as unchanged seemingly from his youth, brings instant recall of the athlete that once was Kingston Mills.

As Kingston in his research and soundings generously does his country some service now, it brings to mind the part he played, little told in another National event, this time a sporting one some 36-years-ago.

The year was 1984. Olympic year. The nations Marathon Runners were dreaming and training to qualify for Los Angeles.

BLE, the predecessor of Athletics Ireland, set a qualifying time of 2:14.00 and designated the Cork City/National Marathon as the official trial. First across the line guaranteed an Olympic spot, subject to breaking 2:14 and after that anyone who got a sub 2:14 would be considered.

As it transpired that Easter Monday in April 1984, Gerry Kiernan(2.14.30) and I(2.14.39) both were outside the required time but because of the unseasonably warm day and the closeness to the time and each other on the day we both ended up getting the electoral nod

A month later in London, said Kingston Mills ran 2:15.14 when finishing 14th in the London Marathon. This ranked him third in the selection race for LA.

Both Kingston and the greater running community felt he too had a real chance of becoming an Olympian. It was not to be.

Unbeknown to almost all, John Treacy, living and training in the US and already 10,000m qualified had intimated his desire to be selected for the Marathon, despite never having run one.

The rest is History. Treacy got selected and won that unforgettable Silver medal, commensurate with his great ability and talent. It was the right decision and typically Kingston never moaned. Even back then he was doing his country some service.

He would of course go onto prove he was a Marathoner of real quality. In 1986 he outduelled his good friend Roy Dooney in a good old fashioned style National Marathon on the backroads of Port Laoise, winning in 2:15.58.

Later that year he ran a career best 2:13.55 in Berlin. This in turn won him selection for the 1987 Rome World championships where he would finish an excellent 25th.

Add to that other pb’s of 48.02 for 10 Miles and 63.55 Half Marathon. Would not you love to hear this Scientist’s vie of the Vaporfly?

The local connection is worth recording. Kingston, originally from Mullingar, studied in Trinity College back in the 1970’s.

There among his teammates in a strong DUHAC squad were Rahenyite pre-cocooners Gerry Giblin (G squared), Paul Brady (PB), Paul (Gonzo) Dunne and John (Maygrey) Maher.

Kingston’s father Frank ran for Ireland in Baldoyle Racecourse in 1931 on that famous day when Tim Smythe won the International Cross Country Championships.

We are in good hands.