President Higgins leads tributes following death of former Olympian Jerry Kiernan

Former Irish Olympian, Jerry Kiernan.
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Digital Desk Staff

President Michael D Higgins has paid tribute to former Olympian and athletics commentator Jerry Kiernan following his death.

The 67-year-old represented Ireland at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, placing ninth in the men's marathon.

Kiernan went on to train many of Ireland's top athletics talents, including middle-distance runners John Travers and Ciara Mageean.

The Listowel man also appeared as a commentator and pundit on RTÉ's coverage of athletic events, including the Olympics and the European and World Athletics Championships.

Leading the tributes, President Higgins said Kiernan leaves behind an "enduring coaching legacy", while Athletics Ireland also tweeted their condolences.

RTÉ's Des Cahill tweeted: Disbelief amongst a lot of my colleagues in @RTESport at news of Jerry Kiernan's passing.

"I know he was a great athlete, but also a fantastic broadcaster. Apart from his deep passion for athletics, he also loved a good argument, Barcelona FC and giving out about the GAA!"

Former Olympian David Gillick said Kiernan's knowledge of athletics will be sorely missed.

"He was a character. I had then pleasure of doing a bit of work with Jerry, and he was a fountain of knowledge when it came to athletics.

"It was his passion, it was his pure love. I think when you look at Jerry, obviously he was a great athlete, but he helped so many people in terms of their own athletic careers."

A statement from Cliona O'Leary, RTÉ's deputy head of TV sport said: "We are all devastated; Jerry brought so much passion, honesty, humour and warmth to our coverage across three decades of Olympics, National, European and World Athletics Championships and Cross-Country Championships, and to everything he did.

"He was a great friend as well as a superb analyst; he was so knowledgeable across so many subjects, and what really stood out was his interest in other people and his desire to see them be the best they could be.

"Jerry brought so much to every encounter; it is so hard to believe that we have lost such a force of nature. We are all so sad to have lost such a great friend and colleague in RTÉ Sport, and we send our sincere sympathies to Jerry's family and loved ones we are thinking of them at this extremely difficult time."

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