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Padraig Harrington on ‘Coaching the Coaches’ of Special Olympics

Four people standing out together holding a banner that reads: Special Olympics Great Britain.
Special Olympics Global Ambassador Padraig Harrington with Special Olympics Great Britain golfers at a golf clinic hosted by Padraig in 2019.

Special Olympics Global Ambassador Padraig Harrington was recently interviewed by Alan Brazil and his colleagues at the Alan Brazil Breakfast Show on talkSPORT, the world’s biggest sports radio station.
The focus was on Padraig’s decade-long involvement with Special Olympics and the golf clinics he offers our golfers and coaches.

Padraig sees his main contribution to the movement as the guidance he offers to Special Olympics coaches and he emphasized that it’s the same advice he would give to any non-elite coach. Padraig noted, “I’m trying to get away from the idea of ‘keep your head down and swing slowly’—this advice is counterproductive to swinging a golf ball for a non-elite player. You’re trying to get them to have a bit of movement, freedom in their swing, to use their hands and arms.”

Padraig also discussed the particular challenges the athletes face during current COVID-19 crisis and encouraged Special Olympics golfers to keep active during quarantine. He stated, “[Special Olympics athletes] can be more susceptible to COVID-19. It’s a tough time for them, at the moment.”

He praised the approach that Special Olympics golfers take to the game, stressing the motivation they give him during golf clinics on the sidelines of major tournaments. He said, “These athletes are the most enthusiastic people you would ever come across. I just could only wish to have their attitude! … They just love what they are doing.”

Finally, the Ryder Cup naturally came up for discussion. Set to take place in the US from 25 – 27 September 2020, the famous golf tournament has not been cancelled or postponed yet. Padraig is taking time to practise and will be ready to compete when the times comes, but as he observed, while the world faces this unprecedented global crisis, there are more urgent topics and challenges that need to be confronted.

Listen to the full interview (scroll to 17 minutes).

Padraig Harrington playing golf while athletes watch.
Special Olympics Global Ambassador Padraig Harrington with Special Olympics Ireland golfers at a golf clinic hosted by Padraig in 2019.

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