LARA Gillespie is definitely a ‘glass half-full’ person.
As one of the 15 individual recipients of OFI Paris Olympic Scholarships she recently got the chance to do a photo-shoot, posing in her Irish skin suit, in front of the Eiffel Tower in the city where she hopes to fulfil her track cycling dreams in 2024.
“That was very cool and and an opportunity that came out of me being sick because I wasn’t racing at the time, so you have to be grateful for that,” she says of emerging from two difficult years.
Dealing with injury and illness is tough for any athlete but must have been even harder for one as precociously talented and successful as the 21-year-old from Enniskerry.
She’s the first to admit that, when she finally decided to concentrate on cycling after success in multiple sports before she left school, cycling came naturally to her. A European Youth Olympic Festival silver (Time Trial) in 2017 was followed a year later by a European junior title (Points) and silver medal (Pursuit) on the track.
In 2019 she won Pursuit bronze at the World Juniors and three silvers at European Juniors.
Yet her Irish senior Road and Scratch (track) titles in 2020 and a European U23 medal last season came against the odds, while she was struggling with serious health issues.
“I had this rare gynae (gynaecological) condition that I was born with. It only started causing issues when I was 15 and came back really badly in late 2020. It was only diagnosed in January 2021 and rushed for an operation.
“I never healed properly from that. I ended up fighting through it and going abroad and then tearing my hamstring. I got some good results in 2021 - silver at Euro U23s, gold (team pursuit) and bronze (omnium) in a senior World Cup which was a big step up - but, after the U23s, the pain was so severe that I just had to stop.
“I did a lot of rehab, tried to get back training but just I was so fatigued and then was diagnosed with glandular fever last December.”
She couldn’t train again until May. Throw in all the COVID lockdowns and chaos and it is clear she has come through a hellish two years when her tightknit family support has never been so important.
“I never like relying on people, but I had to ask for help and try and find other things that made me feel happy and grounded,” she reveals.
Living in rural Wicklow with her grandparents, her mum Suzanne (an international in orienteering) and her younger sister Bobbi, where she’s been running, cycling, climbing mountains and sea swimming since her childhood, proved central to recovery.
“Spending time at home, being around my family, my grandparents, my boyfriend and in nature, that’s what got me through. I was able to turn it around and appreciate that time because I kinda feel I’ll never have it again.”
Probably not given the peripatetic life of Irish track cyclists.
She returned in time for the recent European U23s and is currently in Mallorca, preparing for the European Seniors (Munich, August 11-21).
Having just graduated with a degree in Health and Performance Science from UCD in May, she has been accepted for a Masters but may yet defer it.
“I’m not sure if I’ll do it or hold off because I really want to go full force for Paris, especially after two years of a lot of setbacks. I’m just really hoping for a clear run now.
“The Olympic scholarship really helps. Like being able to get flights without stress and being able to pay my coach and (for) equipment I’ve never had before, like those aero handlebars that everyone else has.”
Gillespie is, literally, back on track now, though faced with the challenge of transitioning from U23 to international senior.
“I got three fifth places at the European U23s but I was fighting for medals and, off such little training, that’s made me excited. I know there’s so much more in me and really want to use all the potential I have.
“I’m also lucky that I’ve had a good experience of racing in elites already. I went straight from racing juniors to senior World Cups and didn’t even realise how big a step that was at the time. I’ll just keep working hard.”
We have received the NOC of Ireland media accreditations for Paris 2024 and are at the stage of collecting information from press agencies to gauge what their general intentions are regarding sending journalists/photographers to cover the Paris Olympic Games.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to receive the link to the registration of interest form.
Given the proximity to Ireland, and the fact that we will be celebrating 100 years of Team Ireland at the Olympic Games in 2024, we are anticipating a bigger demand for accreditations than we have been allocated.
The First World Press Briefing takes place in Paris from the 18 – 21 October 2022, register HERE to get all the information.
For those looking for accreditation as Non-Rights Holding television and radio broadcasting organisations (ENR), the information will be available ON THIS LINK between 26 January and 8 March. NOTE: these are not applied for through the OFI.
Dare to Believe ambassador and Tokyo Olympic Bronze Medallist Eimear Lambe understands the importance of having role models. The Dublin rower who became an Olympic medallist in Tokyo when she finished third in the final of the Women's Four with teammates Aifric Keogh, Fiona Murtagh and Emily Hegarty, explains how there is no one way to win a medal, and how a role model can come in many forms.
"Growing up I was constantly comparing myself to other amazing athletes, and I had them on pedestals and I would consider them these infallible people."
The Dare to Believe schools programme is sponsored by Team Ireland sponsor Permanent TSB, and a key element of the programme is athletes telling their story to school children.
"So I feel like having the opportunity to come to a school and just tell my story and let people know there are ups and downs to it. I wasn't born this big athlete, it took a long journey. Hopefully they can find inspiration in it, and see that maybe their path isn't as straightforward as they hoped it would be, but it doesn't mean they can't do amazing things."
To find out more about the programme head to www.daretobelieve.ie where teachers can register for the programme which is delivered in both primary and secondary schools.
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.
350,000 USD to be distributed across thirteen sports
The Olympic Federation of Ireland today revealed the recipients of the Paris Scholarships, as preparations are already underway for the Summer Olympic Games in Paris 2024. A total pot of $350,000 will be distributed to Olympic hopefuls with the Women’s Hockey team awarded the team grant of $100,000. The fifteen individual grants to a total of $250,000 were awarded to athletes from twelve sports.
The funding for the grants is primarily provided through a combination of International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Olympic Solidarity programme funding and OFI funding, split $250,000 from the IOC and the remaining $100,000 from the OFI to allow for a greater number of scholarship awards in Ireland.
The scholarships aim to support the athletes in their preparation for Paris, and to assist on the qualification journey. Athletes were nominated by the national federations and are representative of a mix of Olympians targeting a second Games, and athletes targeting an Olympic debut.
Making the announcement, Team Ireland Chef de Mission for the Paris Olympic Games, Gavin Noble, said,
“Thirty-five individual nominations were received from nineteen member sports for the Paris Scholarship fund, and today we are delighted to formally announce our Paris scholars and of course our support of the women’s hockey team. In the Tokyo cycle, twelve scholarships were awarded, and from those nine athletes qualified for the Games, with two finalists at the Tokyo Olympics. Naturally, we are aiming to build on those results. Through the support of the International Olympic Committee Solidarity Fund, and with the additional backing of Permanent TSB, Allianz and Deloitte, we are able to fund more athletes, to a higher level than ever before, and it is very much part of our performance and commercial strategy that we continue to move in this direction.”
Details of all recipients are below:
TEAM GRANT - $100,000
Women’s Hockey Team
The Women’s Hockey Team were awarded the team grant of $100,000 to assist with their preparations towards Paris 2024. The team consists of both experienced players who competed in the Tokyo Olympics, and emerging talent looking to make their Olympic debut in Paris.
INDIVIDUAL GRANTS – $15,000 PER PERSON
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is launching a new four-sport Olympic qualifier series for Paris 2024. This is an Olympic Agenda 2020+5 project, which was presented today to the IOC Executive Board. The new IOC-led Olympic qualifier series will include four sports – BMX freestyle, breaking, skateboarding, and sport climbing.
The series of three festival-style events will bring together the best athletes from each of the four sports in one urban park, as they compete to qualify for the Olympic Games Paris 2024. Hosted in compact city centre venues over four days, between March and June 2024, the festivals will offer a new Olympic experience to fans from around the world, blending sport with music, art and culture.
The qualifier series builds on recommendation 6 of Olympic Agenda 2020+5 “Enhance and promote the road to the Olympic Games.” The IOC will work closely with the four partner International Federations – the International Federation of Sport Climbing, the Union Cycliste Internationale, the World DanceSport Federation and World Skate, which will remain responsible for the running of their respective competitions – to use the power of the Olympic brand in order to enhance the exposure of the athletes and their journeys on the road to Paris 2024. These three events will form part of the respective Paris 2024 qualification systems for each sport.
IOC President Thomas Bach said: “A key recommendation of Olympic Agenda 2020+5 was to enhance and promote the road to the Olympic Games for the athletes. This series of qualification events is a key milestone in the delivery of that recommendation. By having the best athletes from these four sports in a series of qualification events in major city locations, which will combine sport and culture in a festival atmosphere, we expect to boost their visibility and highlight the great achievements of the competing athletes on the road to Paris 2024. I would like to congratulate the four participating International Federations for their vision in working with us to create a new exciting pathway to the Olympic Games for athletes and fans around the world.” This series builds on the success of urban sports at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, and supports this continuing evolution on the road to the Olympic Games Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028.
Olympic athletes who represented Ireland across the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games and the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games were honoured this evening at a special event held by the Olympic Federation of Ireland at the Mansion House, Dublin.
The event, which was held in the aftermath of a hugely successful year for Team Ireland, marked the official wrap of the 2020 Summer and 2022 Winter Games cycles, and saw Olympic athletes awarded across different categories for their contribution to the team. This evening’s event also acknowledged and recognised the contribution of the Team Ireland athletes at both Games overall, as they represented their country with pride and in doing so, inspired a nation.
The first award of the night was the Allianz Rising Star award, awarded to young swimmer, Mona McSharry, who made a big splash at the Summer Games in Tokyo last year. McSharry made history in Tokyo, becoming the first Irish swimmer in 25 years to compete in an Olympic final, touching home in a time of 1:06.94 in the final to finish 8th overall. The award was decided by nominations from sports from across the Olympic Federation members, which were then passed on to an independent committee vote for the final decision.
The second award of the night was the Deloitte Special Recognition Award for the Summer Games, with Dr James O’Donovan – Team Ireland Chief Medical Officer at the Tokyo Games – picking up the award, following an extremely difficult and challenging Games, that saw him lead Team Ireland athletes and staff through the Games safely and without incident.
The Deloitte Special Recognition award for the Winter Games meanwhile was awarded to Cross Country Skier, Thomas Maloney Westgaard for his performances in Beijing in February, which saw him leave a major impact on the sport, finishing sixth nation in a hugely competitive event. This was off the back of a challenging start to the Games for Westgaard, which saw him in isolation until the day before competition due to Covid-19.
The Permanent TSB Spirit of the Winter Olympics Award was a joint award given to Seamus O’Connor (Snowboarding) and Brendan Newby (Freestyle Skiing) as they inspired the youth of Ireland to Dare to Believe in themselves.
While the Permanent TSB Spirit of the Summer Olympics Writers’ award - which was decided upon by the Irish media who attended the Summer Olympic Games – was awarded to Irish boxer Emmet Brennan for his embodiment of the spirit of the Olympics throughout the Games, inspiring the nation as he went.
The final award of the night was the Indeed Award for Excellence, and saw all Olympic medallists from the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games recognised. This included gold medal winners Kellie Harrington (Boxing) and the rowing pair of Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy, as well as bronze medal winners, Aidan Walsh (Boxing) and the rowing four of Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe, Fiona Murtagh and Emily Hegarty.
Speaking about the awards, CEO of the Olympic Federation of Ireland, Peter Sherrard stated:
“Through the Tokyo and Beijing Games, the Team Ireland athletes have been dedicated, committed and inspiring. We are very proud of their achievements. It was a pleasure to have Minister Catherine Martin in attendance, as well as Sport Ireland and the newly appointed Athletes’ Commission as we looked back on the Games just gone and prepare for Paris, and Milan Cortina. We wish to extend our congratulations to our award recipients this evening and thank our sponsors and partners for helping to make the evening so special for our athletes.”
Nicci Daly has announced her retirement from international hockey following 200 caps and playing a dynamic role in the Green Army’s golden period since making her debut in 2010.
It included that famous 2018 World Cup silver medal, five European Championships and this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo while her goal against South Africa in 2015 in Valencia will be forever remembered as one of the greatest ever in an Irish outfit.
It is a career that the now 33-year-old scarcely envisaged during her school days. Introduced to the sport at The High School in Rathgar, her earliest years were spent more around the track at Mondello with her father Vivion and uncle Derek who were among Irish motorsport’s leading lights.
Indeed, she only had a fleeting engagement with club hockey at Diocesan while she also played ladies Gaelic football to a high level, playing with the Dublin senior panel.
But Graham Shaw suggested she had far more potential than she ever realised and nudged her in the direction of Glenanne – scoring on her Leinster Division One debut – and then on to Loreto where she was soon tearing it up with her raw pace and stick-speed.
That unique threat brought her to the attention of national coach Gene Muller, making her debut in 2010.
“I was awful; I really don’t think I touched the ball once - not with my stick anyway,” she remembers of the time and her first beginnings in the team.
“It was important though because at that time, I thought how am I ever going to be able to make this team? Now I can look back and know that it was the start of a really exciting journey and that it takes time to get where you want to go.
“The first big high for me with the team I feel was 2014. It was the Champions Challenge in Glasgow in 2014, we were the second lowest ranked team and we finished second - a bit like the World Cup”
“The year before, we had been relegated from the A division Europeans and didn’t even make the second round of the World Cup qualifier so this really was a turning point for the Green Army. It was all down to the coaching of Darren Smith when we started to play some really good hockey.”
Wins against higher ranked South Africa and Korea were formative moments and they carried that belief into the 2016 Olympic qualifiers where they would initially top their group.
In that run, Daly’s breathtaking goal against South Africa typified that new-found swagger.
“That goal was so important for me, not just because it was a good goal but because of the deeper meaning of it. I struggled with confidence as a player and had struggled to unlock my potential in games.
“Leading into the Rio Olympic qualifier, it was my uncle Derek who helped me. I knew I was better than I was showing.
“Derek gave me a book called ‘Performance Thinking: Mental Skills for the Competitive World’. It was about understanding and training your mind for better performances and it helped me so much. That goal felt like the moment it all clicked for me and gave me the confidence and reassurance I needed to believe I was good enough.”
From that pinnacle, though, came the crash as the width of a post put the Olympic dream abruptly on hold.
“Then came the rock bottom low when we didn’t qualify for Rio. It was devastating because we were making the most progress we had seen and we achieved things that had never been achieved before.. It felt like it was our time and to lose out the way we did was just heart-breaking.
“I remember feeling like I gave everything I had and another cycle seemed impossible. I struggled with it and took the opportunity to go to the States to explore my other passion, motorsport. It was definitely the break I needed.”
It helped Daly rejuvenate, recalibrate and play an ever-present role in the Green Army’s groundbreaking 2018 run to World Cup silver on those hazy summer days in London.
“London was a fairytale. Second lowest ranked team and in the World Cup final. It’s dreamland stuff but we went in knowing we could cause an upset (maybe just not quite as big as the one we did). It was great to put hockey on the map back home and inspire a whole generation at the same time, that’s been our legacy I feel, showing the youngsters that anything is possible and that if they can see it they can be it”
She did entertain the notion of stepping back at that stage, finishing on an incredible high, but there was still one ambition very much still to be fulfilled.
“The dream was always the Olympics, ever since the first training camp I went to, when Gene Muller told me hockey was in the Olympics. I didn’t even know that it was an Olympic sport at that stage [in 2009], but hearing my name and the Olympics in the same sentence was the only thing I remember from that conversation.
“Scoring a goal in the shootout against Canada during the Tokyo Olympic qualifier was another important moment for me, not just because of what it meant for the team. It gave me a feeling that I could still offer something, and gave me a boost when I really needed it the most.”
With qualification achieved, the Covid year was a rough one. While her inspiring skills videos were blowing up on social media, managing a niggling knee injury and the time stuck up the Dublin mountains was another big test to get right for a huge 2021.
“It’s been a battle for the last few years. This year was one of the hardest between the injuries and the level of competition within the squad.
“It’s at that point you think – I can either choose to make excuses here or I can continue to take on the challenge and do everything I can to put myself in contention.
“I have so much respect for every player in the squad who took on the same challenges and made that choice to give it absolutely everything and, whatever the outcome, at least we know we gave it everything. Being selected for Tokyo really was the dream come true.”
Her 200th cap came in the final game against Great Britain in the closing fixture of the group stages, the closing chapter to her international career.
In the time since then, it has given plenty of pause for thought about what it meant to be part of the Green Army.
“When I reflect on my career, there were definitely an even share of highs and lows both personally and collectively with the team.
“There are so many things I could talk about over the 12 years but I think one of the most important things I can take away is how much sport can teach you about yourself. It forces you to discover who you really are.
“You learn to understand how you behave when you’re challenged, how you deal with your emotions under pressure and how you choose to approach those challenges.
“You have to be honest with yourself; you have to be willing to have a growth mindset so that you’re always learning and always growing not just as a player but as a person.
“That’s one of the biggest takeaways I can take from my career. How it forced me to discover who I really am and why I was doing it.
“It wouldn’t have been the journey it was without the group and the team of players around me. The different coaches provided something different and I either learned something about myself or my hockey from each of them.
“I have made some of the best friends over the 12 years and I couldn’t have kept going without them pushing me and supporting me along the way.
“My family and very close friends have been the backbone of my support system. I could not have done it without them, especially my mother who shows me what resilience really is.
“I like to think I get my drive from my dad and my strength and resilience from my Mum. My uncle Derek was hugely influential, having had a career at the top level himself, I trusted him and looked up to him. He helped transform the mental side of my game and I am so grateful for his support. A special mention to my nana, an unrelenting energy and inspiration.
“A massive thanks to all our sponsors and individual sponsors who supported and continue to support me.
“It has been a special journey and I feel so lucky to have been part of such a great team for as long as I have. I won’t miss the sore body and aching joints, but I will miss the team and the feeling of walking out to represent my country. 200 appearances and every single time I got butterflies when the national anthem played.
“It’s been special, it’s been emotional, and it’s been a dream come true.
“Thank you ”
LA28 Initial Sports Programme to be put forward to the IOC SessionThe list of sports to be included in the Initial Sports Programme for the Olympic Games Los Angeles 2028 has been discussed today by the Executive Board (EB) of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), along with the process that will be adopted for the review and finalisation of the Olympic disciplines.
Twenty-eight sports, including skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing, will be proposed for inclusion in the LA28 Initial Sports Programme at the IOC Session in February 2022. The 28 sports are governed by the following International Federations (IFs):
World Athletics World Rowing (FISA)
Badminton World Federation (BWF)
International Basketball Federation (FIBA)
International Canoe Federation (ICF)
Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI)
International Equestrian Federation (FEI)
International Fencing Federation (FIE)
Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA)
International Golf Federation (IGF)
International Gymnastics Federation (FIG)
International Handball Federation (IHF)
International Hockey Federation (FIH)
International Judo Federation (IJF)
United World Wrestling (UWW)
International Swimming Federation (FINA)
World Rugby World Taekwondo (WT)
International Tennis Federation (ITF)
International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF)
International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF)
World Archery Federation (WA)
World Triathlon (TRI)
World Sailing (WS)
International Volleyball Federation (FIVB)
International Surfing Association (ISA)
World Skate (WSK)
International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC)
A pathway for boxing, weightlifting and modern pentathlon to be potentially included in the LA28 Initial Sports Programme at the IOC Session in 2023 The possibility for LA28 to propose additional sports in 2023 A process for finalising the disciplines in each sport to provide early certainty to athletes, National Olympic Committees (NOCs), IFs and the Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (OCOG). The IOC EB supported all of the recommendations made by the Olympic Programme Commission, which considered sport-specific questions, as well as the impact on the overall cost and complexity of the Games.
LA28 Initial Sports Programme
Building on the success of Tokyo 2020, the most engaged Olympic Games ever, and with endorsement from the LA28 Organising Committee, the EB decided to include skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing in the list of the 28 sports to be submitted for approval at the upcoming IOC Session.
The proposed inclusion of these youth-focused sports, which made their Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020, is based on their significant contribution to the overall success of these Games, their commitment to innovation and the partnership expressed by the LA28 Organising Committee, recognising the deep roots each of these sports has in California.
It is also based on their appeal to younger generations, and the continuity provided to athletes, NOCs and IFs following their inclusion in the Tokyo 2020 and Paris 2024 sport programmes. The IOC and the LA28 Organising Committee renewed their joint commitment to prioritising a reduction in the cost and complexity of hosting the Games, including a review of each sport’s disciplines that will be finalised prior to the IOC Session in 2023, in consultation with LA28 and the IFs.
With regard to football, the IOC will continue to monitor the evolution of the international match calendar.
Boxing, Weightlifting and Modern Pentathlon
Boxing, weightlifting and modern pentathlon may potentially be included in the LA28 Initial Sports Programme by the IOC Session in 2023 if by then the respective IFs have demonstrated to the IOC EB’s satisfaction that they have addressed the following areas:
AIBA must demonstrate that it has successfully addressed the ongoing concerns around its governance, its financial transparency and sustainability, and the integrity of its refereeing and judging processes.
The IWF and its future leadership must demonstrate its transition towards compliance and an effective change of culture. Furthermore, they must successfully address the historical incidence of doping in the sport and ensure the integrity, robustness and full independence of its anti-doping programme.
The UIPM must finalise its proposal for the replacement of horse riding and the overall competition format, and demonstrate a significant reduction in cost and complexity and an improvement across the areas of safety, accessibility, universality and appeal for young people and the general public.
This timeline will provide AIBA, the IWF and the UIPM with the additional time needed to effectively implement the critical reforms that have been announced by the respective IFs, and allow further consideration by the IOC EB.
The new discipline review timeline: positive impacts for the Olympic Movement
The IOC EB approved the recommendation from the Olympic Programme Commission to consider a new intermediate step in 2023 focused on determining the disciplines for each sport between the approval of the Initial Sports Programme in February 2022 and the finalisation of the events and athlete quota in December 2024, following the Olympic Games Paris 2024.
This new timeline will offer various advantages:
Provide early certainty to discipline-specific athletes and their respective NOCs and IFs, facilitating their planning with five-years’ instead of three-and-a-half years’ notice
Ensure early clarity for the OCOG on the full Venue Master Plan
The discipline review for existing Olympic disciplines, plus any potential new discipline to be proposed by the Olympic IFs, will take place at the same time as the evaluation of potential new sports proposed by the OCOG, allowing for venue synergies and optimisations.
A set of six areas for the review of the disciplines has also been established, in line with the recommendations of Olympic Agenda 2020+5: cost and complexity; popularity and host country interest; uniqueness, universality, gender equality and relevance for young people; best athletes and athlete safety; integrity and fairness; environmental sustainability
Each area will be composed of a number of detailed evaluation criteria, which will be defined in consultation with LA28 and the IFs, and then finalised and communicated in March/April 2022 following IOC EB approval.
During this week’s International Olympic Committee (IOC) Coordination Commission meeting, legacy, collaboration and commercial success were highlighted as being key to the successful progress of preparations for the Olympic and Paralympic Games LA28.
At the meeting held virtually on 17 November, the LA28 Organising Committee team presented a summary of their achievements and developments since the last meeting in October 2020, whilst also outlining their priorities for the coming months.
Speaking about this, IOC Coordination Commission Chair Nicole Hoevertsz said: “It’s been very encouraging to see the progress made by LA28, which continues apace. This is a result of strong collaboration with many stakeholders, including the City of Los Angeles, and LA’s existing world-class venues. LA28 has made great progress with the roll-out of the PlayLA youth sports programme and the establishment of its Athletes’ Commission. We must also acknowledge the supporting role LA28 played in onboarding the new hospitality provider (On Location ) for future Olympic and Paralympic Games until 2028.”
She continued: “We must also commend the LA28 team for their astute commercial success. Having signed a multitude of high-level domestic sponsors and licensing agreements to date, the Organising Committee has a solid financial base to deliver the Games. Considering all that’s been achieved by LA28 so far, it gives us great belief in the work we are doing, together, to deliver an unforgettable Games experience in 2028.”
With seven years to go, the Organising Committee is now advancing planning, based on the strong foundations already in place. The LA28 organisers described their Games Plan as capitalising on the use of world-class sporting infrastructure, supported by an expert workforce experienced in delivering global events. Consequently, LA28 is using this opportunity to focus on the human legacy and ensure that the Games leave a lasting positive impact on the community, long after the Games have ended.
LA28 Chairperson Casey Wasserman said: “We are thrilled to host Games that will benefit Los Angeles for the long term. We’ve built an incredible foundation and are proud of the progress we’ve made. We look forward to continuing to bring innovation and investment to Los Angeles as we create incredible Olympic and Paralympic Games.”
Living up to its promise to engage the next generation, LA28 described how the legacy of the Games has already begun. The PlayLA youth sports programme was launched earlier this month, and is made possible by the agreement between LA28 and the IOC, as part of awarding the 2028 Games to Los Angeles, that up to USD 160 million would be invested in local youth sports in the lead-up to the Games.
The Organising Committee highlighted a number of high-profile commercial partnerships agreed over the past 12 months, including with Comcast, Deloitte and Salesforce. This puts LA28 in an excellent position to achieve its sponsorship target of USD 2.5 billion ahead of the Games.
Last year’s brand launch has been key to attracting new partners as part of a wider push by LA28 to engage new and more diverse communities. The team in LA explained that the iconic Olympic and Paralympic emblem, now synonymous with the LA28 Games, will continue to evolve. New designs are expected to be revealed in the coming months. The Organising Committee has grown in size to around 100 staff, led by new CEO Kathy Carter. Promoted from Chief Revenue Officer in September, Carter received words of congratulation from both the IOC President, Thomas Bach, in his opening remarks to the Commission, and Chair Hoevertsz.
Through the support of International Olympic Committee (IOC) Olympic Solidarity (OS) funding, the Olympic Federation of Ireland (OFI) will support athletes and teams on their journey to prepare and qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
Invitations have been extended to National Federation Performance Directors and Team Leads to apply for Paris 2024 Olympic OS Scholarships on behalf of athletes and for our National Teams to apply for a Team Support Grant.
To qualify, candidates must demonstrate realistic prospects of qualification to the Games of Paris 2024 and must show that OS funding will have a tangible impact on performance.
For the Tokyo cycle the OFI was awarded 8 IOC scholarships and funded a further 4 additional athletes, in addition the men’s hockey team was awarded a scholarship to assist with their qualification efforts .
Out of the 12 Tokyo scholarships awarded, 10 athletes qualified successfully for the Tokyo Olympic Games - including the likes of Mona McSharry, Cathal Daniels, Leona Maguire, Rhys McClenaghan, Jack Woolley and Nhat Nguyen
The application deadline is November 26. Successful applications will be announced in January 2022.
Irish athletes formally congratulated by the Taoiseach at event in Dublin Castle
The athletes and staff who represented Team Ireland at Tokyo 2020 this summer were formally congratulated at the Official Team Ireland Homecoming in Dublin Castle this morning. A record number of Irish athletes competed at the Summer Olympics in Japan with 116 athletes competing across nineteen sports. Olympic Federation of Ireland President Sarah Keane, and CEO of Sport Ireland, John Treacy were joined by the Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Minister Catherine Martin, Minister of State Jack Chambers and His Excellency Ambassador of Japan to Ireland, Mitsuru Kitano at the special event to honour the athletes.
Athletes were presented with gifts to recognise their achievements as Olympians at the ceremony, which included music by musician Roisin O. Top class memorable performances and emotional moments captured the nation for two weeks, in a Games that netted two Olympic titles and two bronze medals for Ireland, with a record number of eight athletes stepping on the podium.
Congratulating the athletes and team at the official event Taoiseach Micheál Martin said,
“I am delighted to honour and pay tribute to the Team Ireland athletes and staff for an Olympic Games that will live long in the memory.
“We are incredibly proud of our medallists, and also each and every athlete. Your personal efforts and commitment was truly inspirational.
“To even reach the Games was an extraordinary journey, and your achievements lifted the nation this summer.”
Minister Catherine Martin added,
“Today acknowledging the incredible achievements of the 116 Olympians that competed in Tokyo is both an honour and privilege for us. These athletes competed with absolute distinction and they are a credit to their families, coaches, friends and their communities.
“The path to the Tokyo Olympics was like no other and the resilience shown by the athletes in combatting every challenge that the pandemic put in their way was remarkable and inspiring. They refused to give up on their dreams of becoming Olympians. They have undoubtedly inspired today’s youth to pursue their Olympic dreams in Paris in 2024, LA in 2028 or Brisbane in 2032.”
Minister of State Jack Chambers said,
“Team Ireland gave the Irish people some incredible and unforgettable sporting memories during the summer. The team’s many successes lifted an entire nation while the manner in which all of our athletes conducted themselves while representing their country will inspire future generations of sporting stars in the years to come.
“Today’s event celebrates every single one of those 116 athletes that represented us in Tokyo as part of the largest Team Ireland to ever participate at an Olympic Games. These athletes occupy a special place in Ireland’s sporting history. They have become Olympians, a distinction that they can always enjoy and recall with great satisfaction and I congratulate each and every one of them.”
President of the Olympic Federation of Ireland Sarah Keane said,
“The Olympics is not just about the performances but also about the experiences and an important part of that is the opportunity to welcome our Olympians home to Ireland after the Games itself. This is the first proper opportunity we’ve had to do this, and we’re delighted to officially recognise and honour the achievements of our 2020 Olympians, especially on the back of what has been a challenging year for everyone.
“It was almost miraculous that the Tokyo Olympic Games took place this year and Team Ireland members really were inspirational and filled the Nation with pride. We are incredibly proud of all our Olympians, who all gave it their all and represented their country so well both away from and in their competition venues.”
Kieran Mulvey, Chairman of Sport Ireland said,
“Today is a fitting celebration to acknowledge all of our athletes for their wonderful performances and commitment in Tokyo. It is also an important occasion for their families, support staff and NGBs. All of our athletes can be extremely proud of their efforts in Tokyo.
“Today is also about recognising the important role of the Olympic Federation of Ireland and the excellent job they did in leading Team Ireland to and at Tokyo 2020. Sport Ireland continues to have a positive and constructive relationship with the OFI, which was brought to new levels through Sport Ireland’s financial and technical support, and the provision of medical and support expertise at this year’s Olympic Games.”
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