FBD Make a Difference Programme Recipients
Paul Pollock – Athletics (Marathon)
Pollock achieved the qualification time for Tokyo 2020 in the Valentia Marathon in December 2019 with a PB of 2:10.25. At the time this was five minutes faster than his previous personal best. The Rio Olympian was Ireland’s top finisher at the Games in 2016 and pending selection aims to match that in 2021. Pollock combines training with his work as a doctor and this funding will allow him to move to full time running for the pre-Olympic period.
Phil Healy – Athletics (Sprinter)
Healy is Ireland’s top sprinter in the 100m and 200m events. Currently she sits inside Olympic ranking as lying 32nd, with the top 56 qualifying for Tokyo. The funding will allow her to compete and train abroad more in the coming months and lead up to what will hopefully be her first Olympic Games.
Brendan Doyle – Skeleton
Doyle is a winter Olympic athlete who marginally missed qualification for the Olympic Games in Pyeongchang 2018. Based in Dublin, he is currently seeking qualification for the Beijing Games in the Skeleton, which involves travel around the world. The former sprinter first was introduced to the sport in his teens and revisited it once he stepped away from his job as a Garda, following a traumatic incident. Doyle is an advocate for mental health, and this funding will assist him in what is a cost intensive season that has been impacted severely by the restructuring of the qualification process in his sport – which means he will need to travel more.
Nhat Nguyen – Badminton (Men’s Singles)
Nguyen is an exciting young Irish badminton player who is currently sitting within the qualification rankings for Tokyo in the Men’s Singles. He is currently ranked 25th with 38 to qualify for the Olympic Games when rankings close. Nguyen was born in Vietnam and lives in Dublin, and as a junior player won a bronze medal at the European Championships. This funding will assist him with improving his performance and ranking for the remainder of the qualification process.
George Bates – Boxing (Lightweight)
Bates is the number one in Ireland at the 63kg weight and is one fight away from qualifying for Tokyo. At the European Qualifiers for Tokyo, he won his first fight before the competition was postponed. This funding will allow him train full time, as he currently juggles work and training.
Aidan Walsh – Boxing (Welterweight)
Walsh competes in the 69kg category and is the current National Champion. At the European Qualifiers for Tokyo he successfully moved out of his first round before the event was called off due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2019, he lost out in the World Championships to the world number one on a split decision. His sister Michaela also competes on the boxing team and won silver at the European Games in Minsk.
Ceire Smith – Boxing (Flyweight)
Smith is number one in Ireland in the 51kg category. The Cavan native is aiming for the World Olympic qualifiers in June and will use the funding to train full time in the high-performance unit in Dublin.
Carly McNaul – Boxing ()
McNaul competes in the 51kg weight category and is targeting Olympic qualification at the World Qualifiers in June. She is a Silver Commonwealth Games medalist and will use the funds to assist her training in the High Performance Unit in Dublin and with all associated costs – which she juggles alongside being a single mother.
Noel Hendrick – Canoe Slalom
Noel Hendrick is a Canoe Slalom athlete .
Horses – Equestrian Teams x 3 (Dressage, Eventing, Showjumping)
For the first time in history Team Ireland has qualified for every category at the Games in Equestrian – with teams qualified in Dressage, Eventing and Showjumping. The funds will benefit the whole team as it will go towards 25 GPS monitors for the long-listed horses on the Olympic Equestrian Team.
Megan Ryan – Gymnastics (All Around)
Ryan is currently first reserve for the Olympic Games in Tokyo in the Women’s All Around, following her performance at the World Championships in 2019. Should a nation who has already qualified a spot ahead of Ireland withdraw this position will be offered to Ireland. Ryan is currently in Leaving Cert in school and balances of sport and study. The fund will assist with training, travel and recovery.
Sive Brassil – Pentathlon
Brassil is aiming to qualify a second Modern Pentathlon spot for Ireland, having amassed ranking points through 2019 and 2020 events. In 2016, Brassil was a sparring partner for Natalya Coyle in Rio, as part of the wider team, and is aiming to make her competition debut in Tokyo. This fund will assist her in heat acclimitisation, training camps and travel throughout the qualification period.
Margaret Cremen, Aoife Casey, Lydia Heaphy – Rowing (Women’s Lightweight Double Sculls)
Cremen and Casey won a silver medal at the U23 European Rowing Championships in September in the Lightweight Women’s Double Sculls and in the same event Heaphy won gold in the Lightweight Women’s Pair. Ireland has one more opportunity to qualify for this category at the final qualifiers in Lucerne next May. This fund will help the three athletes continue to improve and strive for Tokyo qualification.
Cormac Comerford – Snow Sports (Alpine Skiing)
Comerford is an Alpine Skier who specialises in the more technical Slalom event. He currently is ranked in the top 7% in the world and has 40 FIS points towards Beijing. With the Winter Olympics just over one year to go Comerford will be able to better fund the professional set up and season that will hopefully ultimately lead to Olympic qualification.
Nicholas Quinn – Swimming (200m Breaststroke)
Quinn is an Irish Olympic swimmer, who competed in the 2016 Rio Games. He briefly stepped away from the sport for personal reasons following the loss of his father. Quinn has a realistic chance of qualifying for Tokyo as an individual swimmer, and this fund will assist greatly with chasing qualification time, through an increased ability to compete and train against international athletes.
Brendan Hyland – Swimming (100m Butterfly)
Hyland competes in the 100 Butterfly and is close to achieving the qualifying time for the Olympics. His time is currently within B standard, but the Irish selectors are looking for the A standard – outside of which he is just .07 seconds. He competes in the National Aquatic Centre, and is a real product of the home grown Irish system. He comes from a sporting family – his dad was a boxer. Hyland is from Tallaght, Dublin, 26 years of age. This will be his first Olympics should he make it.
David Phelan, Leroy Dilandu – Taekwondo (Sparring Partner)
Both Phelan and Dilandu are crucial training and sparring partners for Jack Woolley, who has already qualified for Tokyo. Having these training partners at events, and eventually in Tokyo for the pre-competition is vital and invaluable to Woolley’s Olympic preparation.