In the final flurry of competitions before Christmas, Irish athletes will be in action this week in a couple of sports. The focus of our interview of the week today is Felix English, the Irish track cyclist who together with Mark Downey qualified a spot for Ireland in the Madison earlier this year. He talks about the qualification rollercoaster and lockdown at his training base in Mallorca. Transcript available on request.
The Olympic qualification status of the athletes can be found AT THIS LINK which will be regularly updated. While many athletes are currently training from home, with little competition, see below a summary of sports which will see Irish Olympic hopefuls in action this coming weekend. This weekly update is provided in collaboration with the various National Governing Bodies, and the press officer contact details for each sport is provided below.
Olympic Federation of Ireland Updates
This week we held an EGM virtually, where three new members join the OFI Executive Committee – Moira Aston (canoeing), Michelle Carpenter (rowing), and Linda Morgan (boxing). This is the first time that it is a fully gender balanced board, with 6 males and 6 females.
At the EGM four new member federations were also added; Luge, Dance Sport and Surfing became full members, due to their presence on the programme for the Paris Games, with Kickboxing becoming an associate member, as it will hopefully on the schedule for LA 2028. FULL STORY HERE.
Earlier this week the IOC approved the programme of events for Paris 2024. Some of the key points of difference in the programme include a reduction in the number of athletes competing, and a reduction in the number of events, it will also be the first time there will be the same number of male and female athletes attending the Games.
The main updates from an Irish context are:
Athletics – in a blow for race walking, the 50km race has been removed. This is an event in which we are strong, Rob Heffernan has an Olympic Bronze medal in the 50km from London 2012, and two time Olympian Brendan Boyce was the first Irish athlete across all sports to achieve the Tokyo qualification standard back in 2018.
Boxing – there will be one fewer male category (7) and one more female category (6). At this stage, the actual weight categories to be added/removed have yet to be decided.
Rowing – contrary to popular understanding of changes to come on the rowing programme, the lightweight double sculls remains on the schedule for Paris – this is a big boost for Irish rowing – as it is the event in which the O’Donovan brothers won a silver medal at Rio, and in which Rowing Ireland has produced consistent podium results.
In the inaugural 2020 UCI Cycling Esports World Championships Ireland’s Chris McGlinchey finished 13th in a time of 1:05.19, just 4.8 seconds behind the winner. Full results can be found here.
This week’s interview was with track cyclist Felix English, who alongside Mark Downey qualified a spot for Ireland in the Madison at the Tokyo Olympics. Felix speaks about life in lockdown at the training base in Mallorca, and also about the roller coaster of emotions around the drama of an initial misallocation of Olympic qualification spots, which saw them temporarily lose out to Hong Kong.
At the World Championships both the men’s team and the women’s team of Lydia Boylan and Lydia Gurley finished at the right side of Olympic qualification. By qualifying in the Madison, Ireland automatically also gained a spot in the Omnium event. Olympic qualification in track cycling is now complete so the remaining competitions between now and Tokyo will see Team Ireland focus on internal selection, to decide who will don that jersey next summer.
Brian Nugent has stepped down as Technical Director and Head Coach of the Cycling Ireland high performance programme, after fifteen years at the helm. He has overseen sweeping success across the Olympic and Paralympic programme on the track and road during this time and will be missed.
The Netherlands have set up a virtual diving competition in which three Irish performance divers will compete. 46 divers are entered representing their country or club with 12 different countries or clubs involved.
This week up and coming golf talent Olivia Mehaffey will be playing as an Amateur at the US Women’s Open. Professionals Stephanie Meadow and Leona Maguire just missed out on qualifying spots at the event. More here and follow Olivia’s progress on the ILGU twitter feed.
The Irish sailing team is currently training in Villamoura, Portugal, with one boat already qualified for Tokyo – the Laser Radial. The 49ers and Lasers are still seeding qualification for Tokyo 2020.
The 49er’s Olympic qualifier has been confirmed as the Princesa Sofia regatta in Palma, Spain – 26 March – 3 April 2021.
The Laser’s Olympic qualifier will take place in Hyeres, France from the 17-24 April.
More details on the sailing team can be found HERE where you will find links to how you can follow the team.
Jack Woolley has been progressing through his rounds today at the Taekwondo European Championships – Seniors Olympic Weight Category in Bosnia. You can follow his competition HERE. Last week we chatted to him about his journey to Olympic qualification and how he has been getting on during lockdown.
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