Some stellar Irish Olympians recently called time on their international careers.
Three-time Olympian Scott Evans (30) retired 10 years after becoming Ireland’s first male player to qualify for an Olympic Games. He competed in Beijing and London but the highlight of his career was finishing ninth at the Rio 2016 Games and he bowed out by helping Ireland to second place in their group at the European Team Championships in Russia in February where he won three of his five games. Evans said: “The time is right to retire after 14 years of full-time training and participation on the World Tour. I know what it takes to be a professional athlete every single day and what I need to do to be at my best and I don’t have the same desire as before.”
Belfast Lough sailor Matt McGovern (33) has also retired after giving stellar service for Team Ireland for well over a decade. He partnered Carrickfergus helmsman Ryan Seaton in the 49er class and, after finishing 14th in the London Olympics, they made the final medal race in Rio 2016 where they finished a commendable 10th after a series that saw them score two firsts, a second and a fourth. After Rio, McGovern partnered 2013 Laser youth champion Robbie Gilmore for one final ’49er season. He has a degree in sports science and sports management and is now working fulltime as High-Performance Manager for RYA, Northern Ireland’s governing body for sailing.
Rower Claire Lambe (27), whose many honours include sixth in the Rio Olympics and helping Cambridge defeat Oxford in last year’s British Boat Race, has also hung up her oars. Lambe, who was fourth at the World U23s and European Championships as a lightweight single sculler, showed great resilience to return from the disappointment of not qualifying for London 2012 to make it to Rio, partnering Sinead Lynch in the lightweight double where they made history as the first Irish women’s crew to reach a final. Since then Lambe, from Dublin, has completed a Masters in Cambridge in Engineering for Sustainable Development and is now working for Arup in Cork, specialising in developing renewable energy. “To go another step again and get a medal would have been amazing and maybe it could have been done, but I’m pretty satisfied with what I achieved,” Lambe said. “I know I can be an Olympic finalist but can I be a successful engineer? Can I have a positive impact in my career or in my life outside of sport? That’s a new challenge that I’m probably less confident about.”