James Kehoe (IRL) is the only athlete in the history of The World Games to have participated in 9 editions of The World Games! He competed in all editions from the inaugural one in Santa Clara, California in 1981 until Cali, Colombia in 2013. And not just competed: he has 9 medals too, of which 2 are gold. He is The World Games Greatest Athlete of All Time first runner-up!
James Kehoe was born on the family farm in Boley, Co. Wexford, where he still resides. He was one of 12 children, and 7 of them pulled Tug of War at international level. James Kehoe’s sporting career began in 1976 - he is a founder-member of Boley Tug of War Club - but he is still lining out on the rope to the present day. Besides his 9 medals at The World Games, he has won dozens of international and over 100 national titles in these 44 years. Together, the Kehoe brothers have 35 medals from The World Games!
“Being a participating athlete and being able to witness The World Games is any sportsperson's dream. Qualifying to compete in the Games is always a goal of our team, and to have won there is the ultimate success,” James Kehoe says.
Kehoe received 113,120 votes in The World Games Greatest Athlete of All Time poll, and was a clear number two after Malaysian Squash star Nicol David.
“During the campaign for The World Games Greatest Athlete of All Time, the support I got was overwhelming! The group organising the campaign pushed the event way beyond the Tug of War community, with social media, newspapers, National radio and TV bringing the campaign to the wider public. I have to say that the Irish everywhere are always great to support one of their own!”
“When I was selected as a candidate for The World Games Greatest Athlete of All Time, the Secretary of Boley Tug of War Club, Martina O'Farrell, started a campaign on social media. She sent e-mails to radio stations - local and national – and organised radio and newspaper interviews. Posters were made by club and family members and posted in grocery shops and farming Co-ops. My niece Melanie Kehoe works with our National TV Broadcaster RTE, and she organised an interview which was broadcasted on our main news programme. I also had interviews on 2FM and Today FM which were broadcast nationwide. Our local newspaper The Standard covered the story at the beginning of the campaign, and local radio stations did so as well.”
“It spread throughout the Tug of War community, which was helped greatly by our club’s Facebook page. Lots of local and national companies promoted the event through their social media. Even the former International rugby player Tommy Bowe posted a video on his social account and on his national morning TV show, asking everyone to get behind me and vote! Also current international rugby players Tadhg Furlong and Seán Cronin tweeted asking everyone to support. It was all a massive effort indeed!”
Tug of War has been a passion for the Kehoe family – and still is today.
“To have competed at The World Games was the icing on the cake,” James Kehoe says. “My best memory from The World Games has to be The World Games 1985 in London. The weather was exceptionally wet, but the ground conditions really suited our style of pulling, and we won gold medals in two different weight categories! From a Tug of War point of view, right from my first Games in 1981 the Games have always been organised to the highest standard, enabling athletes from lots of sports to participate in a wonderful sporting occasion.”
James Kehoe will receive a diploma, a trophy and a branded gift from the official sponsor, Protective Life. Further, as with every candidate in the race, he will receive more promotion throughout the year.
“It’s been a very different but exciting few weeks. I am a shy person by nature and prefer to be out of the spotlight, but as the competition progressed, much to my surprise I started enjoying it more. I am totally overwhelmed by the amount of support I received. It has been an honour for me and my club to have taken part in this competition,” Kehoe concludes.
The World Games is a multi-sport event staged every four years by the International World Games Association under the patronage of the International Olympic Committee. The 11th edition of The World Games will be held in Birmingham, Alabama, USA, 7-17 July 2022. 3,600 athletes from over 30 sports and 100 countries will take part in The World Games.