She's a double Olympian, a double World Champion, a double European Champion, and she has qualified for her third Games in Tokyo.

Indeed Ambassador and champion rower Sanita Puspure has not had an easy road over the past few years, and her road to Tokyo has not been without its emotional battles.

In this beautiful video Sanita brings us on a journey with her, and leaves us in no doubt that she will leave no stone unturned in her pursuit of Olympic glory.

Irish Show Jumping team manager Michael Blake (pictured) has named his team for tomorrow’s (Friday) four-star FEI Nations Cup at Wellington in Florida, USA, which will be Ireland’s first team action of the 2021 season.

Ireland have been drawn fourth to jump of the eight teams that take part and line out as follows:

Cork’s Shane Sweetnam with Karlin Van’t Vennehof – owned by Seabrook LLC & Shane Sweetnam
Wexford’s Bertram Allen with Castlefield Vegas (ISH)  – owned by Martin Egan
Galway’s Michael Duffy with Zilton SL Z – owned by Katherine Duffy & HMF Equestrian
Meath’s Cian O’Connor with Cadiz  – owned by Ronnoco Jump Ltd

Ireland will be up against teams from Israel, USA, Mexico, Colombia, Britain, Brazil and Canada with the competition getting underway on Friday at 9.30pm Irish time.

A record 733 athletes from 47 countries are set to compete at the 36th edition of the championships which take place in the Arena Toruń from 4-7 March. The championships commence at 6.00pm lrish-time on Thursday March 4th with the qualifying pool of the men’s high jump.

Team Ireland will have a 22 athlete squad in Poland with several of our top performers from the 2019 edition of this championships returning, including medallist Mark English, along with semi-finalist Phil Healy.

Several athletes will be looking to target finals, most notably 800m record breakers Siofra Cleirigh Buttner and Nadia Power, along with Andrew Coscoran (1500m), Sean Tobin and John Travers (3000m).

Cian McPhillips and Israel Olatunde are stars of the future and will earn valuable senior championship experience, and they are joined by senior championship debutants John Fitzsimons, Luke McCann, and Georgie Hartigan.

Day 1 Schedule (Thursday 4th):

The first Irish athlete to take to the track at the 2021 European Indoor Championships will be Michelle Finn in round 1 of the 3000m at 18.30pm (Irish time) on Thursday March 4th. Andrew Coscoran, Paul Robinson, and Luke McCann will go in round 1 of the 1500m at 19.20pm (Irish time) to round out the Irish athletes in action on day 1.

Day 2 Schedule (Friday 5th):

Day 2 will see Phil Healy, Sophie Becker, and Sharlene Mawdsley open their championships in round 1 of the 400m at 10.22am (Irish time). Recent 800m record breakers Siofra Cleirigh Buttner and Nadia Power will go in round 1 of the 800m alongside Georgia Hartigan at 12.00pm (Irish time).

The men’s 800 is set to start at 18.55pm where we’ll see Irish 800m record holder Mark English line up with recent rivals Cian McPhillips and John Fitzsimons.

Day 3 Schedule (Saturday 6th):

Irish athletes will have a busy morning session on day 3 with Leon Reid, Israel Olatunde, and Dean Adams in the starting blocks at 09.18am (Irish time) for round 1 of the 60m. Sean Tobin, John Travers, and Brian will be in action shortly after in round 1 of the 3000m which is scheduled for 10.25am (Irish time).

Sarah Lavin will round off the Irish athlete competing in Saturday’s morning session as she takes her place in round 1 of the 60m hurdles at 11.10am (Irish time).

Day 4 Schedule (Sunday 7th):

The Women’s 60m sprinters will be the last to make an appearance, with Ciara Neville, Joan Healy, and Molly Scott all set to go in round 1 at 09.18am (Irish time) on Sunday. They will be hoping for a quick turnaround with the 60m semi-finals scheduled for 11.40am (Irish time).

Useful Links:

Liam O’Brien (22) is back flying the flag for Ireland this weekend as he makes his debut at the World Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Dordrecht, The Netherlands (5-7 March).

The championships are being held in accordance with the Guidelines for International Skating Union (ISU) Events during the COVID-19 Pandemic with comprehensive testing, hygiene, and social distancing protocols in place.

O’Brien will be among over 115 athletes from 29 countries participating in the annual event. He will first race on Friday (5 March) in the qualifying rounds for the 500, 1000 and 1500 metre distances with further rounds taking place over the following two days.

In January, O'Brien placed 25th overall at the European Short Track Speed Skating Championships, the highest finish by an Irish short track speed skater at an ISU Championship.

"I am excited to get out there and race again this weekend," O'Brien said. "The Dutch federation and the ISU have done a great job at organising the event and keeping the athletes and staff safe during difficult times. It will be a strong competitive field and the racing should be entertaining!"

The World Short Track Speed Skating Championships will be broadcast online in Ireland on the Eurosport Player (paid subscription required). O'Brien's first event begins tomorrow (5 March) from 1:20pm (Irish time).

The results of the championships can be followed on the event results page and on social media via the #WorldShortTrack and #ShortTrackSkating hashtags.

Hockey Ireland is excited to announce the SoftCo Series which will take place in Queen’s University Belfast, with the Irish Women taking on Great Britain on Saturday the 13th, Sunday the 14th and Tuesday the 16th of March. The uncapped series matches against Great Britain are the first international matches for the team on home soil since the Olympic Qualifier in December 2019.

Hockey Ireland are delighted to announce that all the matches will be available to view via streaming or broadcast. BBC Sport NI will be streaming all three matches on their website as well as the BBC iPlayer, while RTÉ will broadcast Sunday evening’s match live on RTÉ 2 with coverage starting from 16:30. Nigel Ringland will present BBC Sport NI’s coverage of the three matches and will be joined on commentary by former Ireland international Alex Speers; while Evanne Ní Chuillin will present RTÉ’s coverage, joined by Cliodhna Sargent and Gillian Pinder in studio, with match commentary from George Hamilton and Sarah Scott.

The announcement comes today on the 125th anniversary of the first ever women’s international field hockey match. A year after the establishment of the Irish Ladies Hockey Association, the match took place on the 2nd of March 1986 at Alexandra College, with the Irish Women recording a 2 – 0 victory over England, with goals from Johnson and Obre sealing the win.

The matches will provide the Green Army with the opportunity to play high quality international matches ahead of an intense international summer. With the EuroHockey Championships now an integral aspect of the World Cup qualification process, the 2018 silver medallists will be keen to ensure they maximise every opportunity to allow them to perform this summer in Amstelveen not only as a warmup for the postponed Tokyo Olympic Games but also to secure their spot in the 2022 World Cup.

Speaking on the announcement, Captain Katie Mullan said: “Given the past 12 months we are really excited to play these international matches at home. The squad has been training hard throughout which showed in our recent matches against Spain. They are a strong team and we recorded two wins and two draws out of the five friendlies, putting us in a confident position going into our next block of training. 

These matches against GB will be great preparation for the EuroHockey Championships this summer ahead of travelling to Tokyo. As current Olympic gold medallists GB are an experienced and strong team, so this is a really good opportunity for us to put all the training into practice ahead of this summer.”

Match dates, times and where to watch:

Match 1: Saturday March 13th @ 2pm. BBC Sport NI website, BBC iPlayer. RTE Player TBC.

Match 2: Sunday March 14th @ 5pm. BBC Sport NI Online, BBC iPlayer, RTE 2

Match 3: Tuesday March 16th @ 3pm. BBC Sport NI Online, BBC iPlayer. RTE Player TBC.

World Cup qualification process:

The top 5 from EuroHockey Championships, including hosts Holland and Spain will qualify. The final spot from Europe will be allocated from a qualifying tournament in October containing the EuroHockey Division A 6, 7 & 8 finishers, and Division B 1-5 finishers.

EuroHockey Championships:

The Irish women are currently ranked 8th in the world and will be play in the EuroHockey Championships in Amstelveen this June, taking on the Netherlands, Spain and Scotland in Pool A.

The squad will return briefly before departing for their holding camp in Iwate prior to the Tokyo Olympic Games.

First International Women’s Hockey Match:

The match took place on the 2nd of March 1986 at Alexandra College, with the Irish Women recording a 2 – 0 victory over England, with goals from Johnson and Merton sealing the win.

Picture below is the team who recorded this historic match and victory.

L Martin, Alex College; GK Capt E. Sealey, Dundrum; I Shaw, Donnybrook; A. Boyd, Merton; E. Obre, Merton; J. Boyd. Merton; F. Henshaw, Alex College; D. Johnson, Alex College (1); M. Obre, Merton (1); F. Martin, Alex College; A. Bell, Donnybrook

Day 2 of the Irish Life Health Elite Micro Meet followed a similar theme to day 1 with an Under-20 record smashed as Irish athletes continued to claim European Indoor Championships Standards on a day of PBs at the Sport Ireland National Indoor Arena.

Israel Olatunde (UCD A.C.) broke the Under-20 and Under-23 records when finishing second to Leon Reid in series 2 of the 60 meters. Olatunde’s second 60-meter run of the day saw him cross the line in a record breaking 6.73, having already broken the records an hour previously in clocking a 6.74.

The race would also see Leon Reid clock a new PB of 6.68 which sees him go second on the Irish all-time list for 60 meters indoors.

Phil Healy (Bandon A.C.) also opened her season in impressive style, clocking a personal best time of 51.99 in the Women’s 400m. Healy already had secured the European Indoor Championships Standard in 2020, but will be delighted to post the season leading time which ranks 6th fastest in Europe, and second on the Irish All-Time list in her first competitive outing of 2021.

The middle-distance division continued to show its depth and a thrilling Women’s 800m saw Georgie Hartigan’s (Dundrum South Dublin A.C.) continue her flying early season form with a personal best, and European Indoor Championship Standard performance of 2.01.48 which places her second on the second on all-time Irish Indoor 800m list.

The Men’s 1500m was also a thriller and saw Luke McCann (U.C.D. A.C.)  power away to a stunning PB of 3:40.03 which sees the UCD man rank 3rd of the seven Irish athletes with the European 1500m qualifying standard (3.42.75).

Day 2 event by event summary:

The first event of the day was the Women’s 400m which saw 100m and 200m record holder Phil Healy (Bandon A.C.) open her season in impressive style, clocking a personal best time of 51.99. Healy already had secured the European Indoor Championships Standard in 2020, but will be delighted to post the season leading time which ranks 6th fastest in Europe, and second on the Irish all-time list in her first competitive outing of 2021. The race was also witness to PBs for  Sophie Becker 53.20 (Raheny Shamrock A.C.) and Sharlene Mawdsley 53.56 (Newport A.C.) who both secured the European Indoor Championships Standard (53.60).

Series 2 of the Women’s 400m was a thriller with Grainne Moynihan (West Muskerry A.C) and Catherine McManus (DCH AC) battling to the line in 55.2. Nicole Walsh (Galway City Harriers AC) finished in 3rd in 58.33 on her first outing of the season.

The Men’s 400m looked like it would be a tight affair on paper, and it proved to be just that as 2020 indoor champion Cathal Crosbie (Ennis Track A.C.) and outdoor champion Christoper O’Donnell (North Sligo A.C.) battled for positions along with Cillín Greene (Galway City Harriers A.C.), and Andrew Mellon (Crusaders A.C.). Christopher O’Donnell secured first place in 47.51, with Andrew Mellon second (47.79), Cathal Crosbie third (47.98), and Cillín Greene fourth (48.06).

National Champion Shane Howard of Bandon A.C. posted a season leading jump of 7.12 in the Men’s Long Jump. Howard was the sole competitor in the men’s event but will be pleased with his season opener as he looks to build towards an outdoor season. National Long Jump Champion Saragh Buggy (St. Abbans A.C.) posted a 5.86 with her final jump of the day, but it wasn’t enough to topple the jump of Sarah McCarthy (Mid Sutton A.C.) who posted a consistent round of jumping, topped off by a best jump of 5.94. 2019 European U20 Championships silver medallist (Heptathlon) Kate O’Connor (Dundalk St. Gerards A.C.) continued her preparation for future combined events with a best jump of 5.78.

Arguably the most intriguing race of the day on Sunday looked to be the Women’s 800m which has seen a number of stunning performances over the distance in recent weeks, including the recent a new national 800m record from Nadia Power. The impressive line-up did not disappoint with four athletes claiming personal bests. Georgie Hartigan (Dundrum South Dublin A.C.) continued her flying early season form and her personal best performance of 2.01.48 places her second on the second on all-time Irish Indoor 800m list. Louise Shanahan 2.01.67 PB (Leevale A.C.) and Iseult O’Donnell 2.02.29 PB (Raheny Shamrock A.C.) completed the first three home, and all were comfortably inside the European Indoor Standard of 2.03.85. Claire Mooney was next home in 2.04.29 (Naas A.C), with Katie Kirk 2.05.37 (University of Ulster Jordanstown) and Jenna Bromell 2.05.63 PB (Emerald A.C) completing the finishers to further emphasise the depth in Women’s 800m running at present.

The Men’s 1500m saw the experienced John Travers (Donore Harriers) take to the start line beside Luke McCann (U.C.D. A.C.) and Jonny Whan (Clonliffe Harriers A.C.).  Pacemaker Kevin Woods (Crusaders A.C.) lead the trio out before McCann took to the front and powered away to a stunning PB of 3:40.03 which sees the UCD man rank 3rd of the seven Irish athletes with the European 1500m qualifying standard (3.42.75). Travers, also inside the standard came home in 3:41.74, with Whan finishing 3:49.93.

The first series of the Women’s 60m was up next where Molly Scott (St. L. O'Toole A.C.) exploded out of the blocks to take first place and a European Indoor Standard in 7.36. She was followed in second place by Joan Healy (Leevale A.C.) in 7.42. Healy already holds the European Indoor Standard alongside Ciara Neville, Rhasidat Adeleke, and sister Phil Healy. Hurdler Kate Doherty (Dundrum South Dublin A.C.) was third and will be delighted with her PB of 7.49, as will Aoife Lynch (Donore Harriers) 7.55 PB. Niamh Whelan’s (Ferrybank A.C.) 7.62 along with Lauren Roy’s (City of Lisburn A.C.) 7.76 completed the first series of 60m results.

Series 2 of the Women’s 60m provided a remarkably similar result with Molly Scott (7.37) once again taking first place ahead of Joan Healy (7.42). Kate Doherty (7.52), Niamh Whelan (7.58), Aoife Lynch (7.60), and Lauren Roy (7.70) rounded off the series 2 results.

The final event of the Irish Life Health Elite Micro Meet was the Men’s 60m and Leon Reid (Menapians A.C.) built on his impressive 200m performance yesterday to come home first in a time of 6.72 in series 1. Reid had already acquired the European Indoor Standard (6.74) from last year.

Israel Olatunde (UCD A.C.) looked seriously impressive as he clocked a PB of 6.74 from the outside lane which smashed the U20 and U23 60m indoor record. 2020 National Indoor Champion Dean Adams (Ballymena & Antrim A.C) came home in third place in 6.78. Conor Morey (Leevale A.C.) 6.90, Marcus Lawler (St. L. O'Toole A.C.) 6.92.91, Mark Smyth (Raheny Shamrock A.C.) 6.92.918, and Joseph Ojewumi (Tallaght A.C.) 7.06 completed the time for series 1.

Series 2 of the Men’s 60m saw Reid and Olatunde go even faster with Reid clocking a new PB of 6.68 which sees him go second on the Irish all-time list, while Olatunde bettered his new National Record set an hour earlier by posting a 6.73.

Conor Morey was third in 6.89 followed by Marcus Lawler (6.89), Mark Smyth (6.89), and Joseph Ojewumi (7.06).

Men 1500m Results:

Place     Order     Bib #      Name    Category             Club                                     Result   Info

1             1             133        Luke MCCANN   SEN M   U.C.D. A.C.                         3:40.03 PB

2             4             124        John TRAVERS    SEN M   Donore Harriers               3:41.74               

3             3             160        Jonny WHAN      SEN M   Clonliffe Harriers A.C.     3:49.93               

               2             157        Kevin WOODS - PACE      SEN M   Crusaders A.C.   DNF      

Men 400m Results:

Place     Lane      Bib #      Name                                  Category             Club                                     Result   Info

1             6             106        Christopher O’DONNELL SEN M                North Sligo A.C.                47.51    

2             5             101        Andrew MELLON             SEN M                  Crusaders A.C.                  47.79    

3             4             104        Cathal CROSBIE                SEN M                  Ennis Track A.C.                47.98    

4             3             108        Cillín GREENE                    SEN M                  Galway City Harriers A.C. 48.06

Men 60m Results:

Place     Lane      Bib #      Name                                  Category             Club                                     Result   Info

1             4             131        Leon REID                          SEN M                  Menapians A.C.                6.68                PB

2             5             119        Israel OLATUNDE             SEN M                  U.C.D. A.C.                         6.73                JUN+U23NR

3             3             110        Conor MOREY                   SEN M                  Leevale A.C.                      6.89                .884

4             6             134        Marcus LAWLER               SEN M                  St. L. O'Toole A.C.            6.89                .889

5             7             135        Mark SMYTH                     SEN M                  Raheny Shamrock A.C.   6.89                .890

6             2             126        Joseph OJEWUMI            SEN M                  Tallaght A.C.                      7.06               

Men Long Jump Results:

Place     Order     Bib #      Name    Category             Club       Result   Info        1             2             3               4             5             6

1             1             145        Shane HOWARD               SEN M   Bandon A.C.       7.12       6.78       7.12               X             7.12       X             X

Women 400m Results:

Place     Lane      Bib #      Name                                  Category             Club                                     Result   Info

1             6             141        Phil HEALY                         SEN W                  Bandon A.C.                      51.99     PB/SL

2             5             148        Sophie BECKER                SEN W                  Raheny Shamrock A.C.                53.20     PB

3             4             146        Sharlene MAWDSLEY      SEN W                  Newport A.C.                    53.56     PB

Women 60m Results:

Place     Lane      Bib #      Name                   Category             Club                                                    Result   Info

1             5             138        Molly SCOTT      SEN W                  St. L. O'Toole A.C.                           7.36               

2             4             122        Joan HEALY         SEN W                  Leevale A.C.                                     7.42               

3             7             127        Kate DOHERTY   SEN W                  Dundrum South Dublin A.C.         7.49                PB

4             2             159        Aoife LYNCH       SEN W                  Donore Harriers                              7.55                PB

5             6             139        Niamh WHELAN SEN W                Ferrybank A.C.                                 7.62               

6             3             130        Lauren ROY        SEN W                  City of Lisburn A.C.                         7.76               

Women 800m Results:

Place     Order     Bib #      Name                                  Category                            Club                                                    Result   Info

1             2             114        Georgie HARTIGAN         SEN W                                 Dundrum South Dublin A.C.         2:01.48                PB

2             5             132        Louise SHANAHAN          SEN W                                 Leevale A.C.                                     2:01.67                PB

3             4             118        Iseult O'DONNELL            SEN W                                 Raheny Shamrock A.C.                       2:02.29                PB

4             1             109        Claire MOONEY                SEN W                                 Naas A.C.                                          2:04.29               

5             3             129        Katie KIRK                          SEN W                                 University of Ulster Jordanstown 2:05.37     

6             6             121        Jenna BROMELL               SEN W                                 Emerald A.C.                                    2:05.63                PB

               6             158        Sinead DENNY - PACE     SEN W                                 Dundrum South Dublin A.C.         DNF      

Women Long Jump Results:

Place     Order     Bib #      Name                                  Category             Club                                                    Result   Info        1             2             3             4             5             6

1             1             143        Sarah MCCARTHY            SEN W                  Mid Sutton A.C.                               5.94                      5.83       5.94       5.83       5.82       5.78       5.85

2             3             142        Saragh BUGGY                  SEN W                  St. Abbans A.C.                               5.86                      X             X             X             X             X             5.86

3             2             128        Kate O’CONNOR               SEN W                  Dundalk St. Gerards A.C.                5.78                      5.46       5.76       5.72       5.73       5.69       5.78

Irish athletics returned with a bang at the Irish Life Health Elite Micro Meet at the Sport Ireland National Indoor Arena today.

The event which received Government approval via the Sport Ireland Expert Group saw athletes compete for European Indoor qualification, as well as Category E World Ranking points for all those athletes working towards Tokyo qualification.

2019 European Indoor Bronze Medallist Mark English (Finn Valley A.C.) stole the show as he went on to break his own National 800m Indoor Record of 1:46.82 in a stunning finish with Cian McPhillips (Longford A.C.). The Donegal man crossed the line in a record breaking 1:46:10, with McPhillips clocking 1:46.13 to claim an over 6 second PB, as well as the Under-20 and Under-23 800m Indoor records in the process.

The time also ranks McPhillips 2nd on the European U20 All-Time Indoor standings.

Both men were well inside the European Indoor Championships standard of 1:48:25 along with John Fitzsimons (Kildare A.C.) who finished third in 1:47:80.

Day 1: Event by event summary

The Meet got underway with the Women’s 200m which saw Sarah McCarthy (Mid Sutton A.C.) come home in 24.68 ahead of Catherine McManus (Dublin City Harriers A.C.) in 24.98 for their season openers.

The Men’s 200m followed shortly after where Leon Reid (Menapians A.C.) stormed to a sub 21 second PB (20.96) which ahead of Marcus Lawler (St. L. O'Toole A.C.) 21.23, and Mark Smyth (Raheny Shamrock A.C.) 21.41.

Up next was the High Jump which saw both male and female athletes compete in turn. David Cussen (Old Abbey A.C.) equalled his personal best with a superb 2.10m jump. Jordan Lee (Killarney Valley A.C.) secured a jump of 1.86m as he looks to build towards a big year of outdoor competition.    

2018 World Junior Silver Medallist Sommer Lecky (Finn Valley A.C.) will be satisfied with her 1.75m season opener. Aoife O'Sullivan (Liscarroll A.C.) also impressed and bowed out at 1.70m having cleared the height on her third attempt.

Sarah Lavin (Emerald A.C.) continued her blistering early season form in the first series of the 60m Hurdles, equalling her second fasted time of 8.21. Lavin already had attained the European Indoor Championships standard of 8.20. European U20 Championships silver medallist (Heptathlon) Kate O’Connor (Dundalk St. Gerards A.C.) will be happy with her opening 60m Hurdle performance of 8.59 as she looks to build for the upcoming combined events season.

Both athletes showed tremendous consistency by following up with solid performances in series 2 of the 60m Hurdles an hour later. Both were just outside their opening times, with Lavin posting an 8.22, while O’Connor came home in 8.57.

Matthew Behan (Crusaders A.C.) exploded out of the blocks to come home first in 8.00 in the first of the Men’s 60m Hurdles ahead of Gerard O'Donnell (Carrick-on-Shannon A.C.) in 8.07. Both men returned to the start-line an hour later where O’Donnell (7.95) reversed the result with both athletes dipping under 8 seconds to improve on their earlier times. Matthew Behan finished his second run of the day in 7.99.

The afternoon session got up and running with the Women’s 1500m where Michelle Finn (Leevale A.C.) took on pace making duties. Emerald A.C. athlete Amy O’Donoghue was hot on the heels of Finn for the first 1000 meters but unfortunately had to step out in some discomfort. Ellie Hartnett (UCD A.C) went on to cross the line first in 4:35.27 , while Rio Paralympic athlete Greta Streimiktye will be delighted with her season opener of 4:42.61.

Next up was THAT Men’s 800m race which saw 2019 European Indoor Bronze Medallist Mark English (Finn Valley A.C.) break his own National 800m Indoor Record of 1:46.82 in a stunning finish with Cian McPhillips (Longford A.C.) at the Irish Life Health Elite Micro Meet at the Sport Ireland National Indoor Arena this afternoon.

The Letterkenny man crossed the line in a record breaking 1:46:10, with McPhillips clocking 1:46.13 to claim an over 6 second PB, as well as the Under-20 800m Indoor record in the process.

The Shot Put was next in action and James Kelly (Finn Valley A.C.) will be delighted with his performance which saw him claim an indoor PB of 16.72. The Women’s Shot Put saw Michaela Walsh (Swinford A.C.) impress in her season opener with a 15.17 throw. Casey Mulvey (Inny Vale A.C.) finished second with a 14.69, while heptathlete Kate O’Connor (Dundalk St. Gerards A.C.), 14.22, and Ciara Sheehy (Emerald A.C.) 13.05 rounded off the field.

The final event of the day was the Men’s 3000m which saw four athletes run under the European Indoor Championships (EIC) standard. A race which was paced by Jonny Whan (Clonliffe Harriers A.C.) saw John Travers of Donore Harriers (7:50.40), Darragh McElhinney of U.C.D. A.C. (7:50.80), Conor Bradley of City of Derry A.C. Spartans (7:53.70), and Hiko Tonosa of Dundrum South Dublin A.C. (7:53.79) join Jack O'Leary, Sean Tobin and Brian Fay in running under the EIC standard of 7.58.50.

Day 2 of the Irish Life Health Elite Micro Meet will get underway with a bang at 11.40am tomorrow as the Women’s 400m field take to the start-line. A preview of Day 2 can be found here with a live stream available on the Athletics Ireland YouTube Channel.

ARCHERY AND MUAYTHAI ADDED TO EUROPEAN GAMES 2023
25 February 2021 The European Games Kraków-Małopolska 2023 will showcase the continent’s top athletes in a range of Olympic and non-Olympic sports, including archery and muaythai, the latest additions to the programme of the third edition of Europe’s leading multisport event.

Archery will be making its third straight appearance at the European Games, while muaythai, also known as Thai Boxing, will make its European Games debut in 2023.

 “The European Games give our continent’s elite athletes in popular non-Olympic sports the chance to compete at the highest level and showcase their exceptional talents to a wider audience, said Acting President of the European Olympic Committees (EOC) Niels Nygaard. We are excited to offer a strong mix of both with the inclusion of archery and muaythai on the 2023 programme today.”

World Archery Europe (WAE) President Mario Scarzella said he appreciated the confidence the EOC has placed in archery, in particular through the introduction of mixed-team Olympic qualification and Compound archers at the 2019 European Games in Minsk.

“As President of World Archery Europe and on behalf of the entire European archery family, I can assert that we have welcomed with great pride and satisfaction the confirmation that our sport will be part also of the 3rd edition of the European Games in 2023,” Scarzella said. “I am very much looking forward to seeing the best European archers competing in the 2023 Kraków-Małopolska  European Games.”

Muaythai, a martial art whose origins date back over 1,000 years, is one of the fastest growing combat sports in the world in terms of athletes and spectators. The competition format for muaythai at the European Games has been designed with full gender parity in mind, and as such will feature seven male and seven female divisions plus two mixed-gender team events.
 
Dr. Sakchye Tapsuwan, President of the International Federation of Muaythai Associations (IFMA), expressed his gratitude to the EOC and Poland for placing their trust in the IFMA. He added that muaythai’s inclusion at the European Games would be a boon for the sport’s growing presence in Europe. “Muaythai is the national sport in Thailand, and Asia has been leading the sport over the past decades,” said Tapsuwan. “Europe has grown in strength, evidenced at the last two World Championships, where the overall winners were teams from Europe.”

EOC Secretary General Raffaele Pagnozzi said: “We are quickly putting together the strongest and most eagerly anticipated sports programme in European Games history, one that sports fans in Europe and around the world will be keen to follow.”

The EOC Coordination Commission for the 2023 European Games, led by Chair Hasan Arat, has been working closely with a number of European Federations to finalise their participation at Kraków-Małopolska.

“Together with EOC Sports Director Peter Brüll we are in daily contact with a diverse and exciting range of sports federations regarding participation at the 2023 European Games,” said Arat. “We are very pleased with the growing interest in the Games, which bodes well for our goal of organising the best edition of the European Games yet, just a year ahead of the Olympic Games Paris 2024.”

Wexford’s Bertram Allen and The Irish Sport Horse Castlefield Vegas continued their excellent run of from, by taking a superb victory in Sunday’s €137,000 three-star Grand Prix at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Florida, USA.

From a start list of 45 combinations, 18 made it into the jump-off and at the finish Irish horses and riders dominated the competition, filling four of the top five places.

Fresh off their victory in the Adequan WEF Challenge Cup on Friday, Allen and the 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding by Cassino x Lux Z did it again, putting forth a blistering double-clear effort to stop the clock in 37.10 seconds.

“I knew I just had to give it everything I had,” said 26-year-old Allen. “I didn’t watch Nayel’s round, but I was talking to a few people and they said it was very fast and my guy is naturally fast, so my plan was to just be as fast as I could be without doing anything crazy. It all came up great. Friday was the biggest class he’s [Castlefield Vegas] jumped so far, and he won that, so I was delighted. Today I was interested to see how he would go along with that. He jumped great, and I had a good feeling.”

Less than three-tenths of a second off the leader, Egypt’s Nayel Nassar rode Igor Van De Wittemoere to a second-place finish when clear in 37.39.

Limerick’s Paul O’Shea and Skara Glen’s Chancelloress, owned by Skara Glen Stables, crossed the line clear in 38.35 to take third place overall.

“I thought it was a great course,” said O’Shea, who is ranked 40th in the world. “I was very happy with my mare. She was good the other day too, so I think we went as quick as we could. I’m very happy with her, and at least another Irishman won! Bertram’s horse is co-owned by a very good friend of mine, so it’s great to see them going so well.”
Derry’s Daniel Coyle was next best in fourth place with Legacy, while Offaly’s Darragh Kenny was close behind in fifth with Urhelia Lutterbach.

Meanwhile at Ocala in Florida on the same day, Irish riders were also in excellent form. The $200,000 HITS Grand Prix saw Derry’s Jordan Coyle take runner-up spot with Ariso, while Meath’s Cian O’Connor and Kilkenny finished in fourth place. Victory went to Aaron Vale (USA) and Elusive. On Friday Jordan Coyle guided Eristov to victory in the $25,000 Smartpak Grand Prix at the same venue.

Back in Europe, Wexford’s Harry Allen and the 10-year-old stallion Guinness too runner-up spot in the two-star Grand Prix at Ornago in Italy where victory went to Bryan Balsiger (SUI) with Clouzot De Lassus.

At Vejer De La Frontera in Spain, Meath’s Alexander Butler and the 16-year-old mare Athene finished sixth in the four-star Grand Prix where Gudrun Patteet (BEL) came out on top with Sea Coast Kashmira Z.

BREEDING
Castlefield Vegas (ISH) – 2010 gelding by Cassino (SWWB) out of Clarkes Quiet Optimistic (ISH) by Lux Z (HANN). Breeder: John Clarke, Co. Cavan. Owner: Martin Egan


Rowing Ireland congratulate Alex Byrne on winning the Under 23 Men’s 2,000-meter race on Tuesday 23rd of February. Alex won the Gold Medal with a time of 5.55.3

Last week, Alex was on training camp with the Senior High-Performance Team in Varese, Italy and returned home on Sunday evening to prepare for the World Indoor Rowing Championships which took place on Tuesday.

Alex had a successful 2020 with breaking six minutes in the Irish Indoor Championships in UL in January finishing just behind his brother Ronan with a time of 5:58.9. Alex went on to compete at the Under 23 European Rowing Championships in Duisburg in the first International Rowing Competition of 2020. Alex was part of a Coxed Men’s Four alongside Ross Corrigan, Jack Dorney, John Kearney and Leah O’Regan (Cox). The Irish Crew finished third and took home the Bronze medal with only .64 of a second between them and second place.

World Indoor U23 Men’s Champion, Alex Byrne said, I’ve been planning on competing at the World Indoor Championship since Christmas and to win is a tremendous relief. I was wondering to myself how am I going to do it and prepare for it. I’ve been on training camp for the last three weeks, and the first two weeks were very intense, and I collected a lot of blisters on the hand, but at the end of the two weeks, you get used to it.

The training on the ergometer during the lockdown helped me feel way more prepared for the racing, so going into 2021, I thought that it was an excellent base, and I knew that it was going to work so that I would rinse and repeat”.

Alex competed in the competition in his living room surrounded by medals and Irish Championships winning “pots” Alex has competed for Shandon Rowing Club in Cork from a young age and has won from J14 to Senior at Domestic Events. Alec won at the Irish Rowing Championships in 2018 in the J18A categories, 8+ and 4x-. Alex competed in the Men’s Senior 8+ at the 2019 Irish Rowing Championships, finishing second.

On Wednesday’s racing at the 2021 World Indoor Rowing Championships, three time Olympian and World Champion Niall O’Toole took home the Bronze Medal in the LM 50 category.

Niall has recently taken part in Rowing Ireland’s Row with the Pro’s, which is a complimentary service for Rowing Ireland’s members to train at home with Olympians, World Champions and High-Performance athletes. More information can be found: https://www.rowingireland.ie/row-with-the-pros-booking-sessions/ We wish to congratulate all rowers that represented Ireland throughout the 2021 World Rowing Championships, Alex Byrne, Niall O’Toole, Niamh Hayes, Philip Healy, Aifric O’Sullivan, Wendy O’Leary, Amy Barry, Sally Cudmore, Kenneth Cunningham and Richard Morgan

The Irish Sailing Awards, held online this year, is the annual awards event celebrating the achievements of inspirational people in the sailing community. This year, the awards presented the perfect opportunity to show that despite the Covid-19 pandemic, our sports were able to return to the water in a safe and responsible way, and marked the end of a strange and difficult year with an optimistic eye on the future.

One of the most popular awards on the night is always the Irish Sailing Inclusion Award, given to someone who develops participation for people with all types of abilities so that they can experience sailing. This year, the award was won by Pat Ryan of Galway Bay Sailing Club a volunteer with the Sailability Programme which ran throughout the pandemic and got children with disabilities out sailing. During lockdown we are all at risk of becoming isolated and institutionalised at home, and this is particularly so for some people with a disability. The judges were impressed that a safe and controlled environment was created for all the Sailability volunteers and participants – and this crucial and perhaps unexpected lifeline was made possible by Pat's perseverance and vision. To quote one of the young sailors, ‘Sailability helps me feel physically empowered and has provided me a welcome, social, inclusive and accepting environment where I can be myself. This has been a lifeline to me during the pandemic.’

The Irish Sailing Volunteer of the Year Award was reintroduced this year and won by John Leahy of Dun Laoghaire for his work during the pandemic with the Cruising Association of Ireland. He won out of dozens of nominations entered by the public from around the country. From the moment the pandemic hit John provided a constant stream of communication for CAI sailors – that on the surface looked like talks, presentations and Whatsapp groups, but in reality strengthened the bonds of their community and helped people enormously in a time of great crisis, loneliness and fear. As one person wrote “John’s dedication to support us is commendable and no doubt helped some with the solitude they found themselves in”.

Another Galway resident recognised for their long volunteering career was Nancy Roe of Galway City Sailing Club who won the inaugural Irish Sailing Leadership Award, a brand new award to recognise leadership and vision. Nancy won the award on the basis of her long-term commitment to making sailing accessible to all – particularly families and young people including the disadvantaged or disabled or those with no previous experience. 

17 year old Eve McMahon of Howth won Youth Sailor of the Year for the second year in a row on the basis of her performance at the Laser European Championships in Gdansk in Poland. This was her first senior event and she was the youngest competitor in the field by some way. Eve is now a training partner with the Irish Sailing Team and sails alongside Annalise Murphy and Aoife Hopkins.

The hotly contested Sailor of the Year Award in association with Afloat magazine was won by “Flying Irishman” Tom Dolan – the Irish sailor based in France who finished in 5th place at the Figaro Solitaire last year. This is the annual French multi stage solo offshore race and Tom was the highest-placed non-French sailor since 1997.

Sligo featured heavily in the line-up with Sarah Nicholson of Sligo Yacht Club winning Irish Sailing Senior Instructor of the Year, and Wild West Sailing based in Sligo winning Irish Sailing Training Centre of the Year. The Oysterhaven Centre in Cork won the Irish Sailing Sustainability Award. And Ron Hutchieson won the annual President’s Award for his voluntary work with the Laser Association spanning over 40 years.

Eric Favors (Raheny Shamrocks AC) smashed his own National Record by adding 19cm to his record Indoor shot put throw while competing for the University of South Carolina in the early hours of this morning.

The 24 year old threw a 19.68m (64'5ft) which was the biggest throw by an Irish athlete in 28 years.

Eric has been training extremely well this winter with some big PR’s in the gym, so this performance bodes exceptionally well for the upcoming 2021 season.

A video of the throw is available on Eric’s Twitter page :

https://twitter.com/FricEavors/status/1358220693872271360
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