The Tokyo Olympic qualification status of the athletes can be found AT THIS LINK which will be regularly updated. While many athletes are currently training from home, with little competition, see below a summary of relevant updates from sports to kick off the new year.

To date 52 Olympic athletes have secured Olympic qualification spots for Tokyo, with many more sitting within ranks, and tracking well for qualification. All sports are at different stages within the qualification process; for some the qualification cycle is complete (Hockey, Equestrian, Cycling), and for others the process is ongoing. Some sports like Athletics, Rugby 7s and Judo will have qualification events right up until late June/early July. Over the coming weeks and months, we will flag some of these key qualification events in advance of the competition, with the collaboration of the various National Governing Bodies.

OLYMPIC FEDERATION OF IRELAND UPDATES

Yesterday we announced the successful recipients of the FBD Make a Difference Fund which was launched before Christmas. The aim of this fund is to assist Tokyo/Beijing hopeful athletes with their preparation. After receiving a huge number of entries, eighteen athletes and twenty-five horses were successful in securing some of the €50,000 pot. Read more about the successful athletes and their plans HERE. If you are interested in interviewing any of these athletes, please let me know.

The OFI is currently investigating a move from Howth to the National Sports Campus and is exploring available options currently. The Campus master plan will be published shortly, and we are working closely with the Department on looking at appropriate solutions to meet our needs as an organisation. There would be many positives associated with bringing the Olympic rings on the campus alongside so many of our sports.

Over the coming weeks I will be in touch with each of the accredited journalists and associated agencies to reconfirm details ahead of the final media accreditation deadline in February. Also, the press by numbers accreditation process for Beijing 2022 is closing in February, so please let me know if any journalists are interested in applying for a media accreditation for these Winter Olympics.

TOKYO UPDATES

Athletics

Today we learnt of the sad passing of Olympic marathon runner, Jerry Kiernan RIP HERE. Jerry competed in the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles where he finished in 9th place, and he was also coach to several of Ireland’s top runners. May he rest in peace.

Badminton

Team Ireland Badminton players are currently in the middle of a training block from home, with the Olympic qualifiers resuming again in March. Currently, Men’s Singles player Nhat Nguyen is sitting within the qualification cut off for Tokyo, and Mixed Doubles Chloe and Sam Magee are just outside it.

Equestrian

The long list for Tokyo’s Eventing team was named today by Horse Sport Ireland’s Eventing High Performance Director Sally Corscadden. The strong list includes five Olympians and the World Equestrian Games Silver Medal winning team.

Golf

While Stephanie Meadow and Leona Maguire enjoy a few more weeks of a break on the LPGA Tour, Shane Lowry and Rory McIlroy have got their 2021 season underway at the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship.

Hockey

The Ireland Women’s Hockey Team have returned from Murcia after a short warm weather camp which saw them take on Spain in a series of friendly matches. In December Coach Sean Dancer announced a reduced panel of 23 athletes who would be competing in 2021.  

BEIJING UPDATES

On the 4th February 2021 it will be exactly one year to go until the Winter Olympics in Beijing 2021, and for Team Ireland athletes targeting qualification, competition is underway across the sports.

Ice Skating

Young up and coming ice skater Liam O’Brien is set to make his ISU Championship debut for Ireland this weekend at the European Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Gdansk, Poland.

Luge

In December we welcomed four new member federations to the OFI, including the Irish Luge Federation. Earlier this month Ireland’s first female athlete to compete internationally in Luge, Elsa Desmond, finished 27th at the 2021 European Championships.

Snow Sports

Today two time Olympian in Snowboarding Seamus O’Connor is competing in a World Cup event in Laax, in Switzerland. The finals will take place on Saturday 23 February, and can be followed HERE.

2021 has already been great for Cross Country skier and Olympian Thomas Maloney Westgaard who earlier this month recorded a career best top ten finish in a stage event of a FIS Cross Country World Cup. He finished ninth at the Tour de Ski in Northern Italy. Westgard competes again this weekend, in the Lahti World Cup, Finland.

FUND WILL SUPPORT SUCCESSFUL TEAM IRELAND OLYMPIC HOPEFULS

€50,000 Grant for Irish Athletes on their Olympic Journey

The Olympic Federation of Ireland, in conjunction with official sponsor FBD Insurance, have announced the recipients of the ‘Make A Difference’ programme, a €50,000 fund which will assist Ireland’s Olympic hopefuls in their preparation for the Olympic Games.

Among the recipients announced today were Irish international sprinter, Phil Healy and Irish international swimmer, Brendan Hyland. Phil Healy holds the 100m & 200m Irish Record and 200m Indoor Irish Record and will be hoping to take her great form into 2021 as she attempts to qualify for this year’s Olympic Games. Dublin man and Irish international swimmer, Brendan Hyland is another Team Ireland hopeful looking to make waves in Tokyo this summer.

The full list of recipients is Paul Pollock (Athletics), Phil Healy (Athletics), Brendan Doyle (Skeleton), Nhat Nguyen (Badminton) , George Bates (Boxing), Aidan Walsh (Boxing), Ceire Smith (Boxing), Carly McNaul (Boxing), Noel Hendrick (Canoeing), Equestrian Team (3 Disciplines), Megan Ryan (Gymnastics), Sive Brassil (Pentathlon), Margaret Cremen (Rowing), Aoife Casey (Rowing), Lydia Heaphy (Rowing), Cormac Comerford (Snow Sports), Nicholas Quinn (Swimming), Brendan Hyland (Swimming), David Phelan (Taekwondo), Leroy Dilandu (Taekwondo).

In December, long list athletes in collaboration with their National Federation were invited to apply for a share of the FBD Make a Difference fund. The fund is specifically aimed at prospective members of Team Ireland who are likely to compete in the Olympic Games and who are not recipients of the Sport Ireland Podium or World Class funding.

FBD Insurance is the primary sponsor of Team Ireland, supporting Team Ireland athletes on their Olympic journey. This funding aims to impact the athletes’ daily performance environment, providing additional supports such as travel to training and competition, coaching costs, or sports science and medical support.

FBD Make a Difference Recipient, Phil Healy said:

“I’m absolutely thrilled to be selected as one of the beneficiaries of the FBD Make A Difference programme. It’s always been a dream of mine to compete at an Olympics Games and hopefully I can achieve this dream later this summer. This support as part of the FBD Make a Difference programme will help to further assist my preparations.”

FBD Make a Difference Recipient, Brendan Hyland added:

“Representing Ireland at the Olympics is something I’ve always wanted to do. I’m incredibly grateful to FBD and the Olympic Federation of Ireland for their kind support through the FBD Make a Difference Programme. This support will help with my preparation as I prepare for my qualification events.”

FBD Event 19/1/2021 Brendan Hyland Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

Speaking at the announcement, Head of Marketing at FBD Insurance Aileen Donoghue said:

“As proud sponsors of Team Ireland, we are delighted to offer this support to Ireland’s athletes as they look to excel on the international stage. The commitment, determination and skill of Team Ireland athletes inspire us each and every day and we are honoured that we can give back to them through the FBD Make a Difference Programme. We hope that this additional funding will help all these athletes achieve their goals in this coming year.”

Commercial Director with the Olympic Federation of Ireland, Catherine Tiernan added:

“The support that FBD Insurance has afforded Team Ireland is incredible and the Make A Difference fund is another example of that. The financial commitments that amateur athletes face in their pursuit of sporting excellence can be very challenging. This programme will help to cover some of the daily expenses our athletes face in their preparation and training. We hope that this fund makes a difference for our Team Ireland athletes on their road to Tokyo 2020, and we would once again like to thank FBD Insurance for making this possible.”

See the full list of recipients HERE

The Olympic Federation of Ireland today announced seven scholarships worth $65,500 USD ahead of the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing 2022. The following athletes were successful:

Brenden Doyle – Skeleton

Tess Arbez – Snow Sports – Alpine Skiing

Cormac Comerford – Snow Sports – Alpine Skiing

Alec Scott – Snow Sports – Alpine Skiing

Seamus O’Connor – Snow Sports – Snowboard freestyle

Thomas Westgaard – Snow Sports – Cross Country Skiing

Maggie Rose Carrigan – Snow Sports  - Alpine Snowboard

 

The total bursary amounts to $40,500 in core scholarship funding, and $25,000 in available travel support grants that can be drawn down with receipted travel expenses following the qualification period. The funding is provided through the IOC’s Olympic Solidarity programme.

Making the announcement Olympic Federation of Ireland CEO, Peter Sherrard said,

“While much of the focus this year is on Tokyo 2020, we are delighted to be able to provide support for our Winter Sport athletes in preparation for Beijing 2022. The International Olympic Committee’s solidarity funding for the scholarships has been significantly increased ahead of Beijing 2022 with a much longer lead-in during which support is provided.

“We are also happy to be able to continue our Discretionary Funding programme for our member federations in 2020, whilst spending a record €3m on operations in Olympic year.

The 2020 Discretionary Fund of €50,000 for OFI members opens today until Thursday February 20th.  Applications can be made by National Federations to support specific Olympic focussed projects. The number of eligible applicants for 2020 support is significantly reduced this year, as many National Federations have already received a maximum of two grants during the funding cycle, 2018-2020, during which €500,000 in Discretionary support was allocated by the OFI to its members.

 

The Beijing Winter Olympic Games take place in February 2022. OFI Performance Manager, Nancy Chillingworth made an initial site visit to Beijing in November 2019 to begin preparations for Team Ireland.

 

About Winter Olympic Scholarships

 

After the creation of the Milano Cortina 2026 Organising Committee on Monday, the newly formed organisation wasted no time in getting to work, with the two-day (10-11 December) International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Milano Cortina 2026 Delivery Partners Kick-off Meeting held in Milan. Featuring athletes, members of the local sports movement, representatives of the authorities and IOC experts, the meeting was an opportunity for all the partners to get up to date with the Milano Cortina 2026 project and the latest innovations in Games management from the IOC.

Building on the recommendations of Olympic Agenda 2020 and its New Norm, the seminar attendees heard about how the IOC is helping organisers to deliver Games that will fit the plans of the host region, and how the New Norm is evolving to focus more on the experience around the Games. It was also the ideal occasion for the newly appointed Chair of the IOC’s Coordination Commission for the Olympic Winter Games Milano Cortina 2026, Sari Essayah, to meet all the partners that will deliver the Games over the next seven years.

Speaking after the meeting, Essayah commented, “It was very exciting to feel the energy amongst the different delivery partners at the Kick-off Meeting. When I was an athlete, I regularly competed in the Milan area, and I remember the passion of the Italian people for sport and the Olympic Games; but this is on another level. This northern area of Italy has a great Olympic heritage, with the legacies of Cortina d’Ampezzo 1956 and Turin 2006 still bringing benefits to the region today. Milano Cortina 2026 will continue this tradition with Games for a new era that have been designed to fit in with the long-term plans of the region and not vice-versa. I very much look forward to working with our Italian partners over the coming seven years.”

Various Italian athletes and sporting legends, including Arianna Fontana, Diana Bianchedi, Francesca Porcellato, Gabriella Paruzzi, Giorgio Rocca and Niccolò Campriani, played a key role throughout the event, underlining the important role that the athletes played during the candidature process, as well as the active involvement they will have over the next seven years, as the project is developed and delivered. Their key message was that the athletes should be at the heart of the development of the Games project and key advisors in the main decisions that impact their Games experience.

Milano Cortina 2026 President Giovanni Malagò commented, “The Delivery Partners Kick-off Meeting was an important initiative that we greatly appreciated - a winning start that allowed us to breathe in the atmosphere of the Games with the technicians, athletes, territorial bodies and stakeholders. Milano Cortina 2026 intends to write the future. We are ready for some great teamwork in order to develop this innovative project in the best possible way. To do that, we can count on the know-how and collaboration of the IOC, which we thank for its great support. I'd also like to thank IOC Coordination Commission Chair Sari Essayah for her presence this week, along with the IOC's Olympic Games Executive Director, Christophe Dubi, and his staff.”

The attendees heard from the Mayors of Milan and Cortina, respectively Giuseppe Sala and Gianpietro Ghedina, along with Attilio Fontana and Luca Zaia, the Governors of Lombardy and Veneto, about their views on the Milano Cortina project. Finally, the Presidents of Trento and Bolzano, Maurizio Fugatti and Arno Kompatscher, also spoke about the perspectives of the two provinces.

The political stakeholders also discussed the vision of Milano Cortina 2026, which is to deliver memorable Olympic Winter Games that embrace sustainability, using Italy’s experience, passion and heritage in winter sports to inspire athletes and deliver many long-term benefits for sport and society. The vision is underpinned by five key goals that will deliver a range of benefits, including Games for all providing a positive experience for the entire population, including spectators, residents, athletes and stakeholders; sustainable development and cooperation in the macro-Alpine region; promotion of the Olympic spirit and values; development of Italy's Alpine and Dolomites region into a major sports and tourism hub; and strengthening of the Olympic brand and the benefits of Olympic Agenda 2020 and its New Norm.

Various themes were addressed during the two-day meeting, including the vision and ambition of the Milano Cortina 2026 project; the IOC's new approach to Games organisation and delivery; the Paralympic Games; sport and athletes at the heart of the Olympic Games; the opportunities of hosting the Olympic Winter Games; the role of commercial partners; and engaging and mobilising fans locally, regionally, nationally and internationally.

The first visit of the full IOC Coordination Commission to Milano Cortina 2026 will be in September 2020.

A CHEERFUL PANDA CALLED BING DWEN DWEN HAS BEEN CHOSEN AS THE OLYMPIC MASCOT FOR THE OLYMPIC WINTER GAMES BEIJING 2022.

 

The new Olympic mascot will serve as an ambassador for winter sports, bringing joy to those who participate in and watch the Olympic Winter Games. “Bing” means ice and also symbolises purity and strength, and “Dwen Dwen” represents children. The mascot embodies the strength and willpower of athletes and will help to promote the Olympic spirit.

Bing Dwen Dwen is encased in a full-body “shell” made of ice, and the heart shape in its left palm represents the host country’s hospitality. The bright colours of the halo around its face represent ice and snow sport tracks, signifying connectivity and advanced technologies. The newly launched Olympic mascot resembles an astronaut, embracing new technologies for a future with infinite possibilities.

“Everywhere you go, you can feel the excitement and the anticipation that the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 are generating already,” said Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee, at the mascot unveiling ceremony in Beijing. “This demonstrates that the legacy of the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022, spreading the joy and benefits of sport to all Chinese people, is already taking shape.”

“The launch of the mascot today will generate even more interest for these Games, especially among young people. The mascot incorporates the best elements and characteristics of China and the Chinese people. What I can say already is that it will be a wonderful ambassador for China and the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022.

Recognised as a Chinese national treasure, the panda is deeply loved by people from all over the world, especially young people.

The Paralympic mascot, also revealed today, is called Shuey Rhon Rhon, a lantern child ready to welcome friends from around the world. The name signifies warmth, friendship, courage and perseverance.

Mascots will be available in stores throughout China in the coming weeks. As part of Beijing 2022’s commitment to sustainability, many of the licensed products are made from environmentally-friendly materials.

The Beijing 2022 Organising Committee received over 5,800 mascot designs from China and 35 countries around the world in a global design competition. The designs were reviewed by Chinese and international experts, with the final selections made by teams from the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts and Jilin University of the Arts.

The launch of the Olympic and Paralympic mascots is another step forward for the preparations of the Games in 2022. Progress in all areas continues to be on track, and preparations are ongoing for the first test event, the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup, due to take place in Yanqing in February 2020.

Ireland's five-athlete team for the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang may have been its smallest since 2006 (just four in Sestriere) but this particularly young and inexperienced group did well in extremely testing conditions.

 

Double Olympian Seamus O'Connor (20), who had competed in both half-pipe and slopestyle snowboard in Sochi, did remarkably well to get back considering he ruptured his cruciate knee ligament just 18 months previous. To qualify he concentrated solely on half-pipe and finished 18th from a field of 29 in an exceptionally high-standard half-pipe competition where he was unlucky not to make the final after putting his hand down on the final trick in qualifying.

 

The rest of the team were all Olympic debutants and alpine skiers Patrick McMillan and Tess Arbez coped well with a series of particularly disruptive weather delays that badly disrupted their schedules. Arbez (20) improved her ranking by almost 20 places by finishing 46th of 78 skiers in the women's slalom and made a similar jump in ranking in the Giant Slalom where she was 50th from a field of 79. McMillan (26) was only the second Irishman ever to compete in the Downhill - the blue riband speed event of every Winter Olympics. He finished 52nd and the Clareman did even better in the Super-G where he finished 48th from a field of 61 skiers.

 

Brendan 'Bubba' Newby (21) also made history as Ireland's first ever competitor in Olympic half-pipe skiing (only introduced in Sochi 2014), Bubba made the qualification standard by making it into the top 30 in the world. After his first run Bubba was one place outside the qualification places for the final, Bubba fell on his second run where he finished 22nd overall.

 

Illness forced the team's only cross-country skier Thomas Westgaard (22) to pull out of his final and best event – the marathon 50km – but he had already taken part in three others. And while his placing in the 15km Free race was his lowest placing it was by far his best performance as he finished 63rd inside 38 minutes in a field of 119 racers. That was a huge personal best and also the highest placing ever by an Irish cross-country skier in that event.

 

Team Ireland shared the same accommodation block in the athletes' village as the huge Austrian team whose backroom, by coincidence, included Paul Schwarzacher-Joyce. Paul was Ireland's first Olympic downhill skier (27th) in Nagano in 1998 where he also finished 15th in slalom and also competed in Salt Lake City in 2002.  He now lives in Salzburg and is one of Austria's fulltime slalom coaches but he visited the Irish team one afternoon and generously gave of his time and fond memories of competing for Ireland.

Irish Team Schedule (Subject to Change)

 

Feb 11

Pat McMillan

Men's Downhill Jeongseon Alpine Centre 11:00-13:05

 

Thomas Westgaard

15 km Skiathlon Alpensia Cross-Country Skiing Centre 15:15-17:10

 

Feb 12

Tess Arbez

Women's Giant Slalom Yongpyong Alpine Centre 10:15-11:55 & 13:45-15:35

 

Feb 13

Thomas Westgaard

Men’s Individual Sprint Classic Alpensia Cross-Country Skiing Centre 20:00-22:00

 

Seamus O’Connor

Men's Halfpipe Qualifications Pheonix Snow Park 13:00-14:50

 

Pat McMillan

Men's Alpine CombinedJeongseon Alpine Centre11:30-13:10
15:00-16:25

 

Feb 14

Tess Arbez

Women's Slalom Yongpyong Alpine Centre 10:15-11:50 & 13:45-15:25

 

Seamus O’Connor

Men's Halfpipe Finals Pheonix Snow Park 10:30-12:10

 

Feb 15

Pat McMillan

Men's Super-G Jeongseon Alpine Centre 11:00-13:10

 

Feb 16

Thomas Westgaard

Men's 15 km Free Alpensia Cross-Country Skiing Centre 15:00-16:50

 

Feb 20

Brendan Newby

Men's Ski Halfpipe Qualifications Pheonix Snow Park 13:00-14:45

 

Feb 22

Brendan Newby

Men’s Ski Halfpipe Finals Pheonix Snow Park 11:30-13:00

 

Feb 24

Thomas Westgaard

Men's 50 km Mass Start Classic Alpensia Cross-Country Skiing Centre14:00-17:05

Seamus O Connor, Bubba Newby and Pat McMillan take to the course to loosen out before their official training sessions start in PyeongChang.

Pat McMillan

Pat McMillan

Seamus O Connor, Pat McMillan and Bubba Newby

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