Local boy with ‘Fastest Feet’ in Ireland to run in Millrose Games

Coach and founder of ‘Fastest Feet’, Dermot McDermott with Charlie.

Coach and founder of ‘Fastest Feet’, Dermot McDermott with Charlie.

Eight year old schoolboy Charlie Sweeney, who is a pupil of Radharc a Mara Primary School, Mervue, will represent Ireland at the famous Millrose Games indoor athletics meet in New York on February 11.

An annual tournament with a history spanning over a century, the Millrose ‘Hall of Fame’ boasts a veritable who’s who of legendary athletes of the sport, including three time Irish Olympian, Eamonn Coghlan who is the seven-time winner of the Millrose NYRR Wanamaker Miles race.

Described by his mother Louise, as being ‘full of beans and larger than life’, Charlie and his speedy feet will take part in the ‘Fastest Kid in the World’ over 55 metre race at the Millrose Games. Joining him on the adventure is Saoirse Higgins from Sligo, who was recorded as being the fastest girl in Ireland during the qualifiers.

Both the youth and the adult races will be broadcast on American national TV, and Charlie will share equal stage alongside Olympic and World Champions who will be participating in the tournament’s senior meets.

Title: Charlie and his classmates in Radharc a Mara Primary School, Mervue.


With Charlie’s mother Louise in planning mode for the upcoming trip, which will see the family fly out to New York on Wednesday, February 7, the excitement is beginning to grow.

“It is surreal, we are all very excited,” said Louise, explaining Charlie’s training schedule which is jam packed with athletics training, boxing and soccer. As well as running, Charlie is also an avid boxer, regularly training with the Olympic Boxing Club in Westside, as well as playing soccer with Galway Hibernians.

“He is completely overwhelmed and kind of still can’t believe it, but at the same time he is very aware that he will be representing Ireland and is not phased or nervous about that at all. He is just doing his training at the moment and is happy out.”

Successful family of athletes

The youngest boy in a family of eight, Charlie is supported in his endeavours by is mother Louise, father Desmond Snr, older brothers; Michael, Desmond Jnr and Eddie, and two younger sisters; Destiny and Louise.

The weekend of the Millrose Games is one of great activity for the Sweeney family, as Charlie’s race coincides with the Connacht Boxing Championship, an event that his older brothers, Michael and Desmond Jnr will be competing in. Michael is the current champion for Ireland in his weight and age class, and both brothers are working hard to ensure they will be fighting at the upcoming All-Ireland Boxing Championship in March.

The two older Sweeney boys are currently prepping for the tournament under the watchful tutelage of their father, Desmond Snr, who is a coach in the Olympic Boxing Club where all four of the Sweeney boys, Michael, Desmond Jnr, Eddie and Charlie train.

“We are a family that is big into sports,” said Louise with a laugh.

Title: Charlie and his sporty siblings; L-R Eddie, Charlie, Desmond Jnr and Michael.

Trip of a lifetime

The annual search to find Ireland’s fastest children is led by Sligo native, Dermot McDermott, who set up a talent ID programme called ‘Fastest Feet’ in 2015. Each year McDermott visits schools across Ireland, holding qualifying runs for eight year old children before determining the children with the top speeds. To date, McDermott has measured the speed of more than 30,000 children, and has ‘developed a strong partnership with the Millrose Games that enables opportunity’.

Each year, Fastest Feet brings these two qualifying children and their parents on a ‘trip of a lifetime’ sponsored by Galway man, Richard Donovan. Donovan, a former student of Radharc a Mara, has said he is “delighted that a student from Mervue has been selected for the first time.”

The Irish link is further solidified by the fact that former Irish Olympian, Ray Flynn has been the director of the Millrose Games for more than a decade. Eamonn Coghlan will also be in attendance at the event.

Charlie and his parents will fly out to New York on Wednesday, February 7, and he will be introduced to the public along with six Olympic medallists at a press conference on February 9, followed by a black tie gala on Saturday, February 10.

Charlie’s will take his place on the starting line at 12:35 (Eastern Standard Time ) / 17:35 Irish time (GMT ), on Sunday, February 11.


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