James Nolan, Head of Athletics at Paralympic Ireland.

Tullamore coach leads Irish athletes to fourth Paralympic Games

For the fourth time in a row, Tullamore athletics coach and two-time Olympian, James Nolan, will head up the Irish Para Athletic team on the world stage when he heads to Tokyo later this summer for the Paralympics Games.

Having been appointed to the position of Head of Athletics at Paralympic Ireland in 2010, the former Irish international runner is responsible for implementing the High Performance Programme for Paralympic Athletics, and a measure of his success is the fact that Ireland will send eight competitors in Athletics to the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo this year.

The games, which open on August 23, two weeks after the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, will run until September 5, and as part of the preparation process, James Nolan is currently in Tokyo on a Training Camp with members of the Irish Paralympic Team.

A gifted athlete himself, the Tullamore man began his athletics career at a very early age, joining a now-defunct club just outside Tullamore called Clodagh Valley Athletic Club, when he was just five years old! He won his first All-Ireland three years later and went on to join Ferbane Running Club for a number of years.

Classed as a middle-distance runner, James Nolan won several All-Irelands over the following years and when he secured a scholarship to attend UCD his athletics career improved massively due to the fact that he had access to world-class coaching and facilities.

Such was the improvement in the young Tullamore man’s form that he progressed from being a good national class runner to international standard in just one year. One of his career best performances was finishing second in the European Indoor Athletics Championships in 2000, which guaranteed him a place on the Irish Athletics Team that qualified for the Olympic Games later the same year in Sydney, Australia.

A second chance at the Olympic Games came four years later in Athens, Greece, but an Achilles injury ruled him out of competing at a third Olympic Games and forced him to eventually retire from what had been a glittering athletics career

James Nolan returned to UCD to secure a Degree in Sports Management after which he moved into a coaching role at the college, where he has been responsible for coaching some of the Ireland’s top runners and helped to develop a top-class athletics culture among students.

As he continues to guide the fortunes of the country’s top elite Paralympic athletes on the world stage, and encourage those on the senior and development panels to achieve their potential, James Nolan has achieved a huge measure of success in his role to date, having guided the Irish Paralympic Athletics Team to 58 podium finishes over the last decade.

He will carry the hopes and dreams of his native Tullamore and the whole nation to Toyko 2020 this summer!