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Athletes and performance enablers gather to celebrate Olympic sport in Ireland


Last night, the Olympic Federation of Ireland (OFI) hosted the Team Ireland Olympic Ball at the Mansion House in Dublin, to celebrate the achievements and contributions of members of the Irish Olympic family in 2023, as well as to honour the athletes who competed in the European Games in Krakow this year. On the night, athletes and Olympic medallists were joined by a host of sports representatives, including the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin TD, Minister of State for Sport and Physical Education, Thomas Byrne TD, Ambassador of France in Ireland, H.E. Vincent Guérend, Sport Ireland, official Sponsors and Partners of the OFI, and members of the National Federations.


This year the OFI fielded athletes in three major events, the European Games in Krakow last June, and the Winter and Summer European Youth Olympic Festivals (EYOF). The event mc was Greg O’Shea OLY, who competed at the EYOF as a sprinter, before becoming an Olympian in Tokyo, competing in Rugby Sevens.


The OFI Presidents Award was presented by Sarah Keane, President of the OFI, to boxing coach, Zauri Antia, for the decades of work he has done with Team Ireland boxers. He has played a key role in the medal success of the Irish team, through the performances of boxers at the Olympic Games.


The PTSB Inspiring the Nation Award recognises an athlete who has exemplified the spirit of unwavering dedication and a commitment to excellence through their sport and actions in 2023. The winner was Ireland’s fastest female, Sarah Lavin, who this year set new Irish national records in both the 100m hurdles and 100m disciplines, as well as achieving the Olympic qualification time. The other nominees were Kellie Harrington (Boxing), Aoife O’Rourke (Boxing), Rhasidat Adeleke (Athletics) and Amy Wall (Kickboxing).


The Sport Ireland Rising Star Award winner was Rhasidat Adeleke (Athletics) who had a breakthrough year in 2023, winning the NCAAs, as well as achieving a qualifying time for the Olympics in both the 200m and the 400m events. The other nominees were Lara Gillespie (Cycling), Daniel Wiffen (Swimming) and Noel Hendrick (Canoe Slalom)


The Allianz Women in Olympic Sport winner was Olympic medallist in rowing, Aifric Keogh, based on the work that she has been doing with the Big Strong Gorls project, which provided a scholarship to junior women rowers this year. This award was to recognise individuals who are paving the way for females in sport. The other nominees were Ciara Mageean (Athletics coach) and Sharon Madigan (Sport Ireland Institute).


The Deloitte Impact that Matters Award, celebrating the team behind the team, was awarded to the Life Skills Team within the Sport Ireland Institute, and was accepted by three-time Olympian in canoe slalom, Eoin Rheinisch for the work they do in preparing athletes for a career after sport. The other nominees were Noelle Morrissey (Athletics coach), Michael O’Rourke (Rowing team manager), Colm Ryan (Canoe Slalom junior coach).


The Flogas Community Ambassador of the Year award was presented to Rob and Marian Heffernan for the work that they do in Cork’s athletics community, their commitment to Olympic sport spans almost twenty-five years, and from competitor to coach and community ambassador. The other nominees were Kellie Harrington (Boxing), Ross Corrigan and Nathan Timoney (Rowing) and Jack Woolley (Taekwondo).


President of the Olympic Federation of Ireland, Sarah Keane, congratulated all the winners, as well as the European Games athletes, saying,

“Our athletes and members of the Irish Olympic movement continue to inspire us both on and off the field of play. Tonight was honouring not only the achievements of Team Ireland athletes, but it was celebrating the impact that their actions have on the nation. It was also about celebrating the team behind the athlete; our brilliant sports science teams, the coaches, the sports, the families, and the many people who play a role in our community.”


Next year Team Ireland will be celebrating 100 years of competing at the Olympic Games, with those Games also being hosted by Paris.

View some of the imagery form the night below

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