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Villanovan Patrick Tiernan Offers Lesson in Resilience at the Olympics

By Shawn Proctor

Every Olympics is filled with storied rises to victory, when an athlete snatches the gold despite seemingly insurmountable odds. Yet for every medal there’s another tale. Last second losses. Injuries. And, for Villanovan Patrick Tiernan, it came in the form of two falls on the final lap of the 10,000-meter finals.

He had been preparing for five years for this moment, and his race strategy had gone to plan with 600 meters remaining. Then, with a mere 180 meters between him and the finish, Tiernan stumbled to the track.

Patrick Tiernan

Patrick Tiernan running in the NCAA cross country finals in 2016. (Courtesy of Villanova Athletics.)

What happened next captured the attention and hearts of viewers around the world. Tiernan rose and continued. He fell again, but, in a demonstration of boundless resilience, willed himself across the finish line.

The normally soft-spoken Australian was matter-of-fact about the moment. “It doesn’t feel anything heroic to me,” said the two-time Olympian, according to The Guardian. “I just fell a little short of where I wanted to be and haven’t had a chance to process any of that. I’ll decompress over the next couple of days, but I’m glad it’s struck a chord with a few people.” He continued to chase his Olympic dream a few days later, competing in the 5,000-meter race.

As Theodore Roosevelt once famously said, it is not the critic who matters. It is Tiernan himself who counts: the athlete training every day, striving for the finish, and reaching for gold. He has been a NCAA champion. He has represented his country. Each result marked a step along his journey, an opportunity to grow and improve.

While 19th place is not a finish that athletes envision, there are many resources for people who find themselves facing disappointment, struggle, and the difficult path forward.

Here are several perspectives, drawn from Falvey’s Collection:

 


Shawn Proctor

Shawn Proctor, MFA, is Communication and Marketing Program Manager at Falvey Memorial Library.


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Villanova Olympians: 1908-2021

The summer Olympic Games began Friday, July 23, and will continue through Aug. 8. To celebrate the games, Shawn Proctor, Communication and Marketing, shared an article highlighting Villanova’s famed Irish Pipeline. Proctor writes, “In all, 66 Villanovans have competed representing 15 different countries, winning 10 gold and five silver medals in the Olympics, and the University has been represented in every Summer Olympics since 1948.”

Four Villanovans will continue this tradition, participating in the summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan: Jay Wright (Men’s Basketball, USA) Summer Rappaport (Triathlon, USA) Patrick Tiernan (Track, Australia) and Síofra Cléirigh Büttner (Track, Ireland).

View the complete list of Villanova Olympians below (Source: VU Hoops). Keep scrolling for some images of former Olympians (courtesy of the Villanova University Archives).

List of Villanova Olympians

Year Event Villanovan Medal
1908 Track & Field J.F. O’Connell
1948 Track & Field Cummin Clancy
1948 Track & Field John Joe Barry
1948 Track & Field Jimmy Reardon
1948 Track & Field Browning Ross
1948 Track & Field George Guida
1952 Track & Field Browning Ross
1956 Track & Field Charles Jenkins, Sr. GOLD Medal in 400 Meters & 1,600 Meter Relay
1956 Track & Field Rolando Cruz
1956 Track & Field Ron Delany GOLD Medal in 1,500 Meters
1956 Track & Field Phil Reavis
1956 Baseball Ken Lowe
1960 Track & Field Don Bragg GOLD Medal in Pole Vault
1960 Track & Field Alex Breckenridge
1960 Track & Field Frank Budd
1960 Track & Field Rolando Cruz
1960 Track & Field Ron Delany
1964 Track & Field Noel Carroll
1964 Track & Field Rolando Cruz
1964 Track & Field Paul Drayton GOLD Medal in 400 Meter Relay; SILVER Medal in 200 Meters
1964 Track & Field Vic Zwolak
1964 Rowing William Knecht GOLD Medal
1968 Track & Field Noel Carroll
1968 Track & Field Marty Liquori
1968 Track & Field Frank Murphy
1968 Track & Field Dave Patrick
1968 Track & Field Larry James GOLD Medal in 1,600 Meter Relay; SILVER Medal in 400 Meters
1968 Track & Field Erv Hall SILVER Medal in 110 Meter Hurdles
1968 Swimming Tom Aretz
1968 Swimming Olaf G. von Schilling
1972 Track & Field Frank Murphy
1972 Track & Field John Hartnett
1972 Track & Field Donal Walsh
1972 Swimming Tom Aretz
1972 Swimming Olaf G. von Schilling
1972 Modern Pentathlon John Fitzgerald
1976 Track & Field Glenn Bogue
1976 Track & Field Dick Buerkle
1976 Track & Field Eamonn Coghlan
1976 Modern Pentathlon John Fitzgerald
1980 Track & Field Dick Buerkle
1980 Track & Field Eamonn Coghlan
1980 Track & Field Don Paige
1980 Modern Pentathlon John Fitzgerald
1984 Track & Field Sydney Maree
1984 Track & Field Eamonn Coghlan
1984 Track & Field John Marshall
1984 Track & Field Marcus O’Sullivan
1984 Swimming Frank Keefe – Coach
1984 Handball Stephen C Kirk
1984 Basketball George Raveling – Coach
1988 Track & Field Sydney Maree
1988 Track & Field Eamonn Coghlan
1988 Track & Field Gerry O’Reilly
1988 Track & Field Marcus O’Sullivan
1988 Track & Field Salaam Gariba
1988 Track & Field Vicki Huber
1988 Swimming Frank Keefe – Coach
1988 Handball Stephen C Kirk
1988 Basketball George Raveling – Coach
1992 Track & Field Charles “Chip” Jenkins, Jr. GOLD Medal in 1,600 Meter Relay
1992 Track & Field Marcus O’Sullivan
1992 Track & Field Sonia O’Sullivan
1992 Track & Field Salaam Gariba
1992 Swimming Lisa Flood
1996 Track & Field Maulan Byron
1996 Track & Field Kim Certain
1996 Track & Field Kate Fonshell
1996 Track & Field Vicki Huber
1996 Track & Field Marcus O’Sullivan
1996 Track & Field Sonia O’Sullivan
1996 Swimming Kire Filipovski
1996 Swimming Lisa Flood
2000 Track & Field Sonia O’Sullivan SILVER Medal in 5,000 Meters
2000 Track & Field Jen Rhines
2000 Baseball Mike Neill GOLD Medal
2000 Swimming Frank Keefe – Coach
2000 Swimming Maddy Crippen
2004 Track & Field Sonia O’Sullivan
2004 Track & Field Carmen Douma
2004 Track & Field Jen Rhines
2004 Track & Field Carrie Tollefson
2008 Track & Field Adrian Blincoe
2008 Track & Field Jen Rhines
2008 Swimming Kristina Lennox
2012 Basketball Lisa Karcic
2012 Basketball Andrew Sullivan
2012 Track & Field Sheila Reid
2012 Track & Field Marina Muncan
2012 Cycling Dotsie Bausch SILVER Cycling Team Pursuit
2016 Track & Field Sam McEntee

 

George Guida, 1948.

 

Vicki Huber, 1989.

 

Eamonn Coghlan.

 

Jen Rhines, 1996.

 

Lisa Flood, 1994.

 

Kate Fonshell, 1991.

 

Charles Jenkins.

 


Kallie Stahl ’17 MA is Communication and Marketing Specialist at Falvey Memorial Library.

 

 


 


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Photo Friday: Vicki Huber, NCAA Champion, Olympian

Vicki Huber

Photo courtesy of University Archives. Originally appeared in Villanova Magazine: Vol. 4, no. 3, Summer, 1988.

As the track-and-field events at the 2020 Summer Olympics get underway, we celebrate 8-time NCAA Champion and two-time Olympian Vicki Huber. She competed in the 3,000 and 1,500 meters events at the 1988 Seoul Olympics and 1996 Atlanta Olympics, respectively.


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Photo Friday: Ron Delany Wins Olympic Gold in 1956

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Photo courtesy of University Archives.

Ron Delany, part of Villanova’s famed Irish Pipeline, sprints to gold in the 1500 meters event at the 1956 Summer Olympics setting a new Olympic record. He went on to compete in the 1960 Olympics, finishing sixth.

 


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Four Villanovans Chase Their Olympic Dreams

By Shawn Proctor

All eyes are on Tokyo as the 2020 Summer Games opening ceremonies commence tonight. Four Villanovans will be among the athletes competing for gold, adding to 108 years of Villanova glory at the Olympics.

Marcus O'Sullivan competes in 1982, two years before competing in the Olympics, his first of four..

Marcus O’Sullivan, part of the legendary Irish Pipeline, races in 1982, two years before competing in the Summer Olympics, his first of four appearances. O’Sullivan is now Head Coach of Villanova Men’s Cross Country and Track & Field.

In all, 66 Villanovans have competed representing 15 different countries, winning 10 gold and five silver medals in the Olympics, and the University has been represented in every Summer Olympics since 1948. For more than five decades, beginning that year, this running dominance was, in large part, powered by the famed Irish Pipeline, which saw an influx of Irish runners competing in U.S. collegiate track and field. This included, in all, 715 athletes who enrolled in programs in all 50 states, and made Villanova a destination for the fleetest of feet.

Siofra Cleirigh Buttner, the newest member of this pipeline, will represent Ireland in the 800-meters event. Australian Patrick Tiernan takes to the track for his second Olympics where he will run for gold in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters races, only the 22nd Villanovan to compete in multiple Olympics. “Every young athlete dreams about the chance to represent their country at the Olympics,” Tiernan told Villanova Magazine in 2016.

Sports writer Joe Boozell once quipped, “Water is wet, and Villanova is good at basketball.” This summer will add to Villanova’s Olympic memories on the hardwood, which most recently saw alumnus Kyle Lowry and Jay Wright win gold as player and coach, respectively, in the 2016 Olympics. Wright takes up the clipboard again as Assistant Coach of the USA Men’s Basketball Team, guiding a team brimming with veteran NBA talent.

Lastly, Summer (Cook) Rappaport will swim, bike, and run against the world’s best as she represents the United States in the triathlon, both in women’s individual and mixed relay.

Learn more…

 


Shawn Proctor Head shot
Shawn Proctor, MFA, is Communication and Marketing Program Manager at Falvey Memorial Library.


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Throwback Thursday: Villanovan Phil Reavis, High Jumper in the 1956 Summer Olympics

Phil Reavis High Jump

Photo courtesy of University Archives.

“Track and field was the premiere sport at Villanova in 1950. That era alone boasted many Olympians, starting the tradition of Villanova greatness at the epitome of competition.”

“Phil Reavis was particularly special. Reavis, born and raised in Somerville, Mass., found himself competing in the great sport. He did some miles and competed on relays, but eventually, found his niche in the high jump.”

“Back then, high jumpers didn’t clear the bar as they do now either—they did the western roll and not the Fosbury flop, as most high jumpers do today.” – Excerpt from “Honoring An Alumnus Trailblazer: Phil Reavis,” written by Samuel Ellison, published in The Villanovan, February 21, 2013.

Special note: Samuel Ellison, author of the article, was a Men’s Track & Field All-American and Fulbright winner.


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Last Modified: July 22, 2021