Rhasidat Adeleke (Athletics) Rhasidat (who doesn’t turn 20 until August 2022) is from Tallaght and is already blazing a trail for Irish sprinting. In 2018, aged just15, she became the European Youth (U18) 200m champion in Hungary. In 2019 she won double sprint gold at the European Youth Olympics in Baku. In July 2021 she became a double European Junior (U20) champion in Tallinn, setting a new Irish senior 200m record (22:90). She took up a scholarship at the University of Texas in 2021 and, in 2022, has already set the Irish 60m record of 7:19 at the US Collegiate Indoor Championships (NCAAs) where she was fourth in the 200m and eighth in the 60m final. In April , at the Texas A&M meet, Rhasidat lowered the Irish senior 200m record to 22:59 and, in May, in only her second race over 400m, her 50:70 (at the Big 12 Championships) broke Joanne Cuddihy’s 15-year-old Irish 400m record (50:73). Rhasidat will make her senior debut for Ireland this summer at the World Championships in Oregon (July 15-24) and European Championships in Munich (August15-21).
Nhat Nguyen (Badminton) Nhat (21), from Clarehall in Dublin, first made his mark by winning the Irish senior title when he was just 16. In 2018 he won bronze at the European Juniors and made the quarter-finals of the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires. In 2019 he made the last 16 of the European Games in Minsk. In 2021 he made his Olympic debut in Tokyo where he won his first group game and took 10th seed Wang Tzu Wei (Chinese Taipei) to a third rubber. In December 2021, despite just recovering from pneumonia, he made it to the last 16 of the World Championships in Spain. He reached the quarter-finals of the European Championship in April (beaten by Denmark’s world #3 (15-21, 17-21) and is currently ranked #10 on the World Tour. World Championships (August 21-28, Tokyo) are his next major.
Adam Hession (Boxing) Adam (21) is a featherweight (57kg) from Galway, a two-time Irish elite champion who, in 2019, became the first male boxer from his club to win an Irish senior title in 2019. He is from the village of Bullaun and boxes for the Monivea club where his dad is a coach. Adam won a silver medal at last year’s European U22 Championships in Italy and made his international senior debut at the 2021 World Championships in Bulgaria last October where he was regarded as unlucky not to get the decision against a Russian. He has been part of the IABA’s High Performance team since 2019 and captained the Irish team at the recent European Championships in Armenia.
Daina Moorehouse (Boxing) Daina (20) is from Bray and competes for Enniskerry BC. The Wicklow southpaw was a European Junior (U16) and Youth (U18) champion (in 2017) at 48kg before she’d even sat her Junior Cert. She captained the Irish team at the 2019 European Championships where she won bronze. In the European U22 Championships in March 2022 she lost to Croatia’s defending European champion and world silver medallist. Daina has won 11 Irish titles (two elites) and has moved up weights to achieve her Olympic dream because 50kg is the lightest category in Paris 2024. She once won a trip to train in Cuba after winning the ‘best boxer’ award in the Golden Girl tournament in Sweden.
Noel Hendrick (Canoeing) Noel (24) is a slalom canoeist from Kildare club Ribbontail CC. He and his twin Robert were just pipped for bronze in a C2 boat at the 2015 World Junior Championships. He now specialises in K1 and his big breakthrough was finishing 9th in the European U23s in 2018. In 2021 he came agonisingly close to Olympic qualification; only beaten for the last available spot by one place when finishing 13th at the European Championships. He is coached by Irish Olympian Eoin Rheinisch and is based in Pau, a big French centre for slalom canoeing. He has a degree from Maynooth University and is currently studying for a Masters in computing through DCU.
Lara Gillespie (Cycling) Lara (21) is a particularly versatile cyclist from Enniskerry, Co Wicklow. In 2017 she won time trial silver at the Youth Olympics. In 2018 she was a European junior champion (Points) and silver medallist (pursuit). In 2019 she won three track silvers at the European Juniors before becoming Ireland’s first medallist (bronze, individual pursuit) at track’s World Junior Championships. In 2020 she won the Irish senior road title and scratch (track) titles and, in 2021, she won European U23 silver in individual pursuit, her sixth medal at European Championships. Lara studied Health and Performance Science at UCD where she was a recipient of an Ad Astra scholarship (for elite athletes) and, while concentrating on track for Ireland, she competed last year professionally for IBCT, a Belgian UCI Continental road team. She has successfully transitioned from junior to senior, climbing the podium at senior World Cups, with a bronze medal in the Omnium at the World Cup in St. Petersburg, as well as a gold medal in the Team Pursuit.
Ciara McGing (Diving) Ciara (21), grew up in London before moving to Dublin to train on the Sport Ireland Campus at 16. Her family hail from both Rathmullan, Co Donegal and Tourmakeady, Co Mayo. She won her first senior Irish title at 17 and represent Ireland at the Junior European championships in Kazan, Russia. After 3 years in Dublin she moved to The Ohio State University in August 2020. In the US she has claimed a medal at the conference championships, made it to the NCAA championships and finished 3rd in Women’s 10m platform at the US Winter National Championships. Ciara narrowly missed out on Tokyo 2020 (finishing 23rd in the World Diving Cup – the top 18 qualified), so has set her sights firmly on Paris 2024. She will be representing Ireland this summer at the World Championships (Hungary) and the European Championships (Italy). Ciara holds the Women’s Irish 10m platform record.
Olivia Mehaffey (Golf) Oliva (24), from Tandragee, Co Armagh, starred as an amateur (winning the Irish, Scottish and Welsh Opens and ranked # Europe and #5 ) before spending five years at Arizona State University (ASU) whom she helped to a US collegiate title in 2017. After graduating with a Masters in organisational leadership in May 2021 she turned professional but she had a very difficult end to last season as her father died and she subsequently missed her full European tour card (LET) by faltering at the last hole at Q-School. This year she has has conditional status on the LET and on the Epson Tour and is chasing her LPGA tour card. Olivia represented Ireland at the 2014 Youth Olympics and two Curtis Cups (2016 and 2018) and also played for Europe at the junior Solheim Cup in 2015.
Sive Brassil (Modern Pentathlon) Sive (28) is from Ballinasloe, Co Galway and came to the sport through ‘pony club’. She is the reigning Irish champion and has competed for Ireland since 2008, achieved a handful of top 15 finishes on the World Cup circuit and qualified for the prestigious World Cup finals three times in-a-row (2017-2019) In 2018 she was part of the Irish women’s relay team that won silver at the European Championships and narrowly missed qualifying for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics (ranked 40th, just outside top 36 who qualified). She has a degree in Spanish and French from UCD and is based in Ireland, training full-time. She finished 13th at the Budapest World Cup in May in pentathlon’s ultra-competitive new ‘elimination’ format and her current world ranking is #28.
Alison Bergin (Rowing) Alison, who turned 20 in February, is from Kildinan in Cork. She took up rowing in her early teens and competes for Fermoy Rowing Club. In 2020 she was part of the women’s four who finished fifth in the European Junior (Under-19) Championships in Belgrade. In 2021 Alison was one of only two women selected in the Irish team for the World U23 Championships where she came fourth in the heavyweight single sculls semi-finals and finished ninth overall. Alison has been training with Ireland’s elite squad in Inniscarra for several years and is a second-year student at Cork IT (Sport and Exercise Management). The World U23 Championships in Italy in late July are her focus in 2022.
Jake McCarthy (Rowing) Jake (25) is from Skibbereen and a few minutes older than his twin Fintan with whom he won his first national rowing title (intermediate) in 2016 which also marked the start of his international career. His highlights include 5th in the 2019 European Championships in Lucerne (with Fintan) in the Lightweight Men’s Double, reaching the final of the Lightweight men’s four in the 2018 World Championships in Plovdiv and, as a single sculler, placing 6th in the B Final of the 2019 World Cup in Rotterdam. He returned to competition at ‘Nationals’ last August after losing more than a full year of rowing due to a herniated disc. He has a degree in economics from UCC and is currently doing a Masters in finance assets management. European Championships (Munich, August 11-14) and World Championships (Czech Republic, September 18-5) are his focus this year.
Aoife Hopkins (Sailing) Aoife (22) is from Howth, has been sailing since she was nine and has been a member of Irish Sailing’s High Performance training group since 2017. She has already taken part in two Olympic qualifying campaigns and Paris 2024 is her next big target. She won the European U21 Laser Radial title in France in 2017 and had one of her most successful results last December, winning the 10th race and finishing 17th overall at the World Championships. Aoife is studying financial maths in UCD where she is a recipient of an Ad Astra scholarship.
Eve McMahon (Sailing) Teenager Eve, from Howth, won Irish Sailing’s ‘Youth Sailor of the Year’ for the third year running in 2021 and Afloat magazine’s ‘Sailor of the Year’ award, despite her youth. In 2019 she won the World U17 Laser Radial title Last July she won gold at the ILCA 6 (new title for Laser Radial) Youth (U19) World Championships in Italy, followed swiftly by a silver medal at the EURILCA Laser Radial Youth Championships in Croatia. In December she just missed out on another medal, finishing in 4th place at the ILCA6 Youth Sailing World Championships in Oman. She has been training with Olympic medallist Annalise Murphy for the last two years and is sitting her Leaving Cert this summer when she will also defend her World Youth title.
Paddy Johnston (Swimming) Paddy (20) swims for Ards SC (where his father previously coached him) and is a member of Swim Ireland’s national senior squad. He moved to America to join Cleveland State University in the past year and competes primarily in butterfly but also in 100m backstroke and in 4x100m medley relays. He currently holds all of the national junior (U19) short-course (25m) butterfly records. At the 2021 Irish National Team Trials he won the 200m butterfly (1:58.81) and was runner-up in the 100m fly (53.32), both personal bests.
Jack Woolley (Taekwondo) Jack (23), from Jobstown (Dublin), first competed at -54kg before moving up to the Olympic -58kg (flyweight) class. When he was aged 17 he was just pipped, in the final qualifier, for a place at the Rio Olympics. In 2019 he was a European silver medallist and ninth in the World Championships. In 2020 he won the US and Sofia Opens and was fifth in the World Grand Prix final and in 2021 he became Ireland’s first taekwondo Olympian, going out in the first round in Tokyo to Argentina’s fifth-placed Luis Guzman. Jack trains full-time in Ireland, is coached by Robert Taaffe and has already won another European silver medal this year (in Manchester, May), pushing defending champion Cyrian Ravet (who had defeated the Olympic champion in his semi-final) the whole way. He is currently #3 in the Olympic and World rankings. Last weekend he was last 16 in the high-ranking Rome Grand Prix (June 3-5) and he has World Championships in Mexico in November.
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