Peter Sherrard, originally from Newcastle, Co Down will begin his role as the OCI’s Chief Executive Officer at the end of April.
A graduate of Trinity College, he is a fluent French and Italian speaker, having lived and worked in both countries and has ten years of experience working in Irish sport. His CV includes Market Manager for Ryanair in Italy, Head of Communications at Ryanair, Director of Communications for the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) and Interim Commercial Manager at the FAI.
He comes to the OCI from his role as the FAI’s Operations Director since 2014 which involved responsibility for all international team and match operations, including the 2016 UEFA European Championships.
Peter, what sports have you played, are you still active and what are your sporting passions now?
Growing up, I ran with the local athletics club and represented my school, mainly in cross country. I swam for Lecale in Downpatrick and competed in regional galas. I played football recreationally, did a lot of mountain biking in the Mournes, sailed mirror and laser dinghies with the local club, did a bit of kayaking, played golf, and also learnt to ski. Nowadays, I try to keep active with a bit of running and occasionally golf, but it is mainly to give myself time to think or catch up with friends!
None of my sporting experience was at elite level. Having seen, first-hand, the work and dedication of elite athletes I have huge respect for the time and effort they put into reaching the highest levels.
What did you learn about international sport from your time at the FAI that you feel will be most useful in your new role?
The most important thing I learnt was the importance of meticulous planning and of creating an environment where everyone pushes obsessively for improvements across every area. The margins are so fine and the competition is so intense that everyone involved needs to push themselves constantly to deliver for the team. With so many Olympic disciplines, and such a diverse range of requirements within them, I know my new role at the OCI will be quite complex but am really looking forward to the challenge.
What sporting event has provided you with your best memory to date?
That has to be Euro 2016 (soccer). I had the privilege of looking after planning for the Irish team on every step of the journey. During the training camp in Fota Island a nun sent Roy (Keane) a consignment of miraculous medals. He gave them out to a lot of us before we departed for France, which was quite a sight and provided a nice moment of levity in the build-up. Mine was worn bare in my pocket the night of the Italy match but eventually the breakthrough the players worked so hard for came from Robbie Brady. That was an incredible night for everyone.
Some people have become cynical about the Olympic movement so what made you want to get involved and what do you believe is its future?
Under Sarah Keane, the new OCI Board has worked tirelessly to create an organisation that is based on performance, athletes, excellence and Team Ireland. That work and very clear strategy gives me a huge leg-up coming into this position. The Olympics has a huge energy for me personally. The simple fact that Olympians are competing to be the best on the planet, the best of 7.5 billion people, contains huge power. We need to be very careful to protect the integrity of that simple ideal and defend it from threat.
If you could have a free ticket for any major sporting event in 2018 what would it be and why?
That’s a hard one to call. The biggest events don’t always translate into the best. Often it is the unexpected that makes sports events special; when you know people have given every last drop of themselves, when competition has driven athletes to achieve more than anyone thought possible and when people succeeded against all odds. That – not necessarily the size of the occasion – is what makes them stand out for me.