Monday 16 September 2019

Darren's Rio dream

Browne working with leading athletes

Darren Browne
Darren Browne

Dean Goodison

While the county is lacking competing representatives in the Rio Olympics, one Wexford man could have a big impact on the medal hopes of a couple of high class athletes.

Darren Browne has a reputation as a fine sportsman himself. He excelled at under-age level, representing his county all the way up the age groups in both hurling and football. He would go on to play football for Wexford at Senior level too.

Yet it was soccer where Browne really shone brightest. He had trials in England, at Q.P.R., and at Mick McCarthy's Millwall. He played for Waterford United, Limerick and Wexford Youths too.

However, the dreaded ACL injuries struck. Once is a horror, two a disaster but three is plain cruel. They took their toll on Browne and he possibly never reached the heights predicted for him. But while others might have dwelt on their misfortune, he turned it into an opportunity.

'I'd have always went to Anthony 'Star' Geoghegan up in Carlow,' Browne said. 'So around 2011 I was talking to him and I was just saying that with all my injuries that I've had, I might be interested in doing a few courses and going down this pathway.'

Renowned physio Geoghegan obviously saw something in Browne. The Wexford man admitted that 'he took me under his wing' and things went from there. It proved to be a quick learning curve for Browne, as he got superb access in a solid learning environment.

'I started going up to his clinics then and just sitting in with him and his other staff up there and they started teaching me everything,' he said. With the appetite well and truly whetted, Browne applied for, and completed, a three-year college course in Monasterevin.

But he continued to make regular visits to Geoghegan, relishing the opportunity to learn from the best. The varied client base also helped and Browne quickly got to know them. 'While I was doing all this, he was bringing over all these athletes from Jamaica and America,' he explained.

'So basically I was doing massages and treating them. While I was going along, I was getting to know all these fellas. Then when I was qualified enough, three of them came over and they liked me so I started travelling with them last year and I started getting sponsored by Adidas.'

For athletics fans, some of Browne's men will be well-known names. 'I started travelling with Martin Bracy, he's the 100 metre sprinter from America, he just got third in the American trials so he's going to the Olympics.'

Like Browne, Bracy is a jack of many trades, as he was a promising wide receiver at Florida State before quitting American football to concentrate on his track and field career. He has a personal best in the hundred metres of 9.93 seconds.

'Alonso Edward, he's the 200m sprinter and he would have been second behind Bolt when he broke the 200m world record, so he's going to the Olympics this year,' Browne said.

His greatest achievement to date is that silver medal as a 19-year-old, behind Jamaican superstar Usain Bolt at the 2009 world championships.

He set his personal best in that race, 19.81 seconds, and has not bettered it since.

Browne has also been treating Curtis Mitchell and Tiffany Townsend, although neither of those advanced out of the extremely competitive American Olympic trials.

Indeed, he was Stateside for almost a month treating his charges during those championships.

That was just another in a long line of stepping stones for the Wexford man who has now reached the pinnacle, the Olympic Games in Rio, where he will work with his two qualified athletes, plus those from the Zambian Federation.

'I'll be working with my own athletes but I'll work for the Zambian Federation, so I work for a fella called Gerald Phiri,' Browne said, name-checking their national sprinting hope.

'They're all in the one training group for Adidas, so that's how that one came about.'

Working with Geoghegan, Browne has got to know his clients too, so on his downtime he is hoping to experience their events as a spectator and supporter, in what is bound to be the experience of a lifetime.

However, while away, Browne's local clients are likely to not be that far from his mind.

He tries to keep his travelling with his elite, high-power athletes to a minimum, because at the end of the day, he admits that 'my bread and butter are my local clients'.

So for anyone needing a bit of physio work done, his door is open to new clients, 'I'd help out anyone if they asked, you know, it wouldn't be a problem,' he said.

However, if his early success is anything to go by, Darren Browne might come back from Rio with more clients than he left with.

Wexford People