Skip to main content
Home » Your Later Life » Olympian and Irish ‘Champion of Champions’ still challenging his body at 85
Your Later Life 2020

Olympian and Irish ‘Champion of Champions’ still challenging his body at 85

Ronnie Delaney (pictured)

Ex Olympic Runner

At 84, you can be forgiven for slowing down a bit. Ronnie Delaney does all he can to make sure life doesn’t grind to a halt, however. With swimming now keeping him in shape – he urges people to find something they can still do to keep them improving and moving.

84 year-old Ronnie ‘Ron’ Delany – a poster boy of Irish athletics, since his 1500m Olympic Gold at the 1958 Melbourne Summer Games – strikes a balance that seldom few athletes manage. Delaney remains both humble and proud of what he’s achieved, in his long and varied life.

Since winning gold, the permeating pleasures in his life have been friendship, family and looking after his body. In short, Delaney is content with his lot – an outlook that is infectious to those lucky enough to meet him.  

Family and friends in later life

“I married a very lovely lady, Joan, who’s looked after me so wonderfully. Four beautiful children and eleven wonderful grandchildren followed. What has money or fame to do with anything when you have that?”

But as much as Ron’s everyday is enriched by the friends and family, great age does bring with it the inevitable realities of health issues and preparing to lose those around you.

Anyone out there struggling along, just get it checked out – there’s so much they can do for you now.

“I look around those I’ve come to know through running or business; we’re slowly popping off one by one – we’re in the departure lounge!”

His own health has been predominantly good. Indeed, he was 70 before having to admit defeat and give playing certain sports.

Health and fitness in later life

“Until I was about 70, I played regular tennis and squash. I also played golf – despite being no good at it. The ability to do those things does pass, but latterly I found swimming which is still a lifeblood to me today.”

The importance of taking responsibility for his own body is a priority for Delaney. Back in the day, he maintained his body as any athlete would – and continues to do so now.

“When I was 69, I got a pain in my groin playing tennis and thought ‘oh god I’ve tweaked my groin’. What actually was going on was degeneration in my hip and I had to eventually have it replaced.”

Swimming keeps him as strong and flexible as possible now. However, sometimes even Ronnie Delaney has to take a break. When his eyes started causing him some problems, he went to the doctor to get himself checked out.

“Anyone out there struggling along, just get it checked out”

“I’ve only just had a cataract operation last month! I almost forgot to tell you! I was getting blinded by car lights coming towards me and thought I’d better get it seen to. The specialist said ‘this is what you’ve got and we can sort it out’.”

“A week later it’s done. It’s brilliant, I can’t believe the difference in colour and my distance sight has improved massively. Anyone out there struggling along, just get it checked out – there’s so much they can do for you now.”

Looking after yourself and indeed knowing when a certain activity might be too much for you is key, according to Delaney. But maintaining movement and activity – just finding something that you can still do – is even more vital to staving off some of age’s less appealing declines.

Next article