Mark English offers up beautiful tribute to classmates who died in the Berkeley balcony tragedy 8 years ago

Mark English offers up beautiful tribute to classmates who died in the Berkeley balcony tragedy

It sometimes takes a tragic event to put the triviality of sport into perspective.

We spend our lives feeling down because our favourite team lost or having our day ruined by a bad performance but there are so much more important things to consider.


Mark English is one of the most promising, young athletes to come out of Ireland in recent years, having claimed bronze at last year's European Championships after which he earned silver at the European Indoor Games this year.

Mark English celebrates winning a silver medal 8/3/2015

But injury meant that the 22-year-old wasn't enjoying the successful summer that he was anticipating as he came up short at The Diamond League in New York.

Those concerns were put into stark perspective, though, when he learned of the death of two of his UCD classmates in the Berkeley balcony tragedy.


"June 15 will live for a long time in my memory," English wrote on his Sky Sports blog. "I was involved in a day of filming with Sky Sports in Dublin. The whole operation was precision personified.  Everything was timed so that the crew had their job completed in time for their flight home to the UK that evening.

"But there was little time to absorb the devastating news I received during filming that day of the death of two of my medical school classmates in the balcony accident in Berkeley, California. The accident claimed the lives of six students and leaving another seven in a critical condition. The magnitude of this tragedy caused me to stop in my tracks and think.

"Were it not for my athletics I may well have been out there myself on a J1 Visa. Less than a year ago I had shared a class holiday with Lorcan Miller (RIP) and Eimear Walsh (RIP) in Croatia. They were two of the brightest, affable and most vivacious people I had ever met.

"Events like this put injuries and poor performances into perspective. I returned from the European team championships on June 23 just in time to attend the funerals of both classmates. My own worries paled into insignificance.

"Athletics is not life and death. In September our class will be missing two vibrant young people who never got a chance to fulfil their potential.

"In the light of all that has happened so far this summer I realise that it is important to live life to the full. To see that glass half full rather than half empty. There is still half the summer left. There is still time to improve on my form and set my injury straight. I will try to embrace the advice of the writer Samuel Beckett.....

"Ever tried.  Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better."