We have a few exciting events on the radar this week, including the Green Army taking on Olympic Champions GB in hockey’s Softco Series over the weekend. We spoke with Team Ireland hockey goalkeeper from Larne Ayeisha McFerran, (TRANSCRIPT HERE) who has been quarantining in Belfast ahead of their first clash on the 13th March. The three matches will be televised. For our winter sports, this weekend is a significant one with the first National Championship to be ever held on snow taking place in Kronplatz Ski Centre in Italy.
As a reminder, the current status of Team Ireland for the Tokyo Olympics is 54 guaranteed athletes travelling to the Games, with many more sitting within qualification. To date there has just been athlete who has been officially selected to Team Ireland – Liam Jegou (Canoe Slalom), with more announcements due to come over the coming weeks.
The full details of the team can be found AT THIS LINK.
OLYMPIC FEDERATION OF IRELAND UPDATES
In the booklet that we wrote as part of the OFI Athletes’ Commission led Don’t Scroll By Campaign we have been highlighting some of the endorsements of athletes and coaches, over the past week. With key figures such as Bernard Dunne, Team Ireland Boxing Performance Director and David Harte who is running for the IOC Athletes’ Commission two endorsers of the campaign that has been launched to tackle online hate speech.
This week we also held the second of the Tokyo Ready Athlete Webinars, which addressed areas such as the Team Member Agreement, Selection Policies and Rule 40, as well as including a panel discussion with Jack Woolley (Taekwondo), Shane Ryan (Swimming) and Shirley McCay (Hockey).
The official dates for the Indeed Career Coach programme were launched this week – with the first courses beginning on the 22 March. This programme was developed to assist elite athletes in preparing themselves for a career outside sport. Indeed Career Coach is supported by the Athletes’ Commission, which has a key goal of looking after athlete welfare and athlete transition.
In IOC news, Thomas Bach has been re-elected as IOC President for a second term.
This week the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee outlined the progress that has been made, reiterating its promise to deliver “safety first” at an Olympic Games that will excite and inspire the world.
Last month the first iterations of the Playbooks for stakeholders of the Olympic Games were issued, with the next one scheduled to be published in April. Details of the PRESS PLAYBOOK are at this link, where FAQs and Questions that were posed at the media briefing are detailed.
Yesterday it was announced that the Arrivals and Departures Information System (ADS) for accredited media has started, and that registration information is available on the Tokyo 2020 Press Operations Extranet. The ADS is a web-based system which will be used to collect all arrivals and departures data for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. They noted that although the deadline given in the form is for the 3 March, registration continues to be accepted.
For those already registered to the Press Operations Extranet the link is HERE. For those travelling members of the media who have not yet registered you can do so HERE. (NOTE THAT YOU NEED AN OFFICE 365/MICROSOFT ACCOUNT TO REGISTER FOR THE PRS EXTRANET).
At the 137th Session of the IOC on Thursday, it was also announced that the Pre-Games anti-doping programme for Tokyo 2020 is expected to be the most extensive ever.
Last weekend the 2021 European Athletics Indoor Championships did not disappoint, at Torun in Poland. Ireland sent a 22 person team to compete, with many personal bests and breakthrough performances across the team. The highlight undoubtedly was a phenomenal FOURTH PLACE FROM PHIL HEALY in the 400m.
The list of names for those qualified for European championships have been announced by Badminton Europe. HERE you can find the Team Ireland athletes who have qualified and will compete. The European Championships take place in Kyiv, Ukraine from April 27th to May 2nd, and the event is doubly important, as it also serves as an Olympic qualification event. In the lead up to the event the players will compete in the All-England Championships and the Orleans Masters Olympic qualifying event in the lead up to the Europeans.
Keep an eye on our channels next week for a St. Patrick’s Day special….
Last weekend the Irish Show Jumping team of Shane Sweetnam, Bertram Allen, Michael Duffy and Cian O’Connor finished as runners up to USA at the Nations Cup in Florida, USA.
At the LPGA Drive On Championship in Florida Leona Maguire secured her best finish in the LPGA to date banking a cheque worth $47,257, valuable ranking points and further confidence in a year packed with opportunity given Solheim Cup and Olympic hopes for 2021. For now, Leona will head back to her US base at Lake Nona and log some competitive practice ahead of a return to competition in two weeks’ time. This performance moves Leona 6 places ahead to 37th in Olympic rankings, just behind Irish teammate Stephanie Meadow in 36th who carded an even par round of 72 for a one-over total and a share of 34th.
On the PGA Tour, Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry compete at The Players Championship this week at TPC Sawgrass. The event is one of the biggest of the season outside of The Major Championships and offers significant ranking points.
The panel for this week’s clash with Great Britain at the Softco Series HAS BEEN ANNOUNCED. Taking place in Queen’s University, Belfast, Team Ireland take on the Olympic Champions on the 13, 14 and 16 March, and all three events will be televised by BBC NI and RTÉ. Ahead of the match, World Cup silver medallist Ayeisha McFerran said “With GB being Olympic Champions, us being the World Cup silver medallists, it’s always a battle. Ireland, England, any sport, no matter what the sport, it’s a battle – we always say it’s a dog-eat-dog world once we play together.” This is definitely worth tuning in to, especially with this being 125 years since the first international women’s hockey match was played between Ireland and GB.
The 49ers have their next chance at Olympic qualification next week in Lanzarote, where they join the Laser Radial Team. Follow Irish Sailing’s Facebook Page for all the updates. The Olympic Qualifying event for the Lasers has been confirmed. It will take place at the 2021 ILCA Vilamoura International Championship, taking place on 17-24 April in Vilamoura, Portugal. This is the last chance for the Irish Laser Men to qualify with two nation places up for grabs against Italy, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands. Representing Ireland will be Finn Lynch OLY, Liam Glynn and Ewan McMahon.
Swim Ireland Performance Athlete Time Trials
Swim Ireland performance swimmers in National Centre Dublin, National Centre Limerick and at South Lakes Leisure Centre, Craigavon (Armagh) will compete in a series of time trials over the next two weekends (Friday 12th & Saturday 13th and Friday 19th & Saturday 20th March). The series will act as a last race preparation for the Irish National Team Trials which will take place at the National Aquatic Centre Dublin from April 20th – 24th.
The big news for the our winter sports this week, amid a series of World Championship events, is that this weekend the first National Championships on snow will take place, with the event occurring in Kronplatz Ski Centre in Italy, where over 300 athletes will be competing, including many athletes from other nations. 180 male and 120 female athletes including some top names will be competing. Follow the Snowsports Association of Ireland Twitter feed for updates.
Rising star, Liam O’Brien, finished 29th at the Short Track Worlds in Dordrecht, the Netherlands last weekend. He raced six times over the course of three days, with an overall championship finish of 29th at the end of competition. Crucially this was the highest placement ever by an Irish short track speed skater, and has secured two spots for Ireland in the men’s category at the 2022 World Short Track Speed Skating Championships which will be held in Montréal, Canada.
Last weekend Thomas Maloney-Westgaard finished a fantastic 25th position in the Men’s 50km at the World Ski Championships in Oberstdorf, Germany, after pushing himself to the limit.
Yesterday Alec Scott finished third in the FIS GS in Folgaria. Full updates can be found on the Snowsports Association of Ireland Twitter feed.
World Championship competition for our snow sport athletes continues this week, with Seamus O’Connor competing in the Snowboard Halfpipe, and Bubba Newbie competing in the Free Ski Halfpipe in Aspen.