Ireland has numerous medal prospects for the London 2012 Olympics, some of whom are genuine gold medal contenders. Here is a list of those who I believe are the most likely to deliver success:
- Katie Taylor (Women's Lightweight Boxing) Serious Gold Medal Contender
- Paddy Barnes (Men's Light Flyweight Boxing) Serious Gold Medal Contender
- Joe Ward/Ken Egan- depending on who qualifies (Men's Light Heavyweight Boxing) Serious Medal Prospect
- Darren O'Neill (Men's Middleweight Boxing) Medal Prospect
- John Joe Nevin (Men's Bantamweight Boxing) Good Medal Prospect
- Grainne Murphy (Swimming-800m Freestyle/400m Free/400m I.M.) Serious Medal Contender, best chance in 800m Freestyle
- Robert Heffernan (Athletics- 20km/50km Walk) Great Medal Prospect in both events, best chance in 50km Walk
- Olive Loughnane (Athletics-Women's 20km Walk) Outside Medal Chance depending on form
- Peter O'Leary & David Burrows (Sailing-Star Class) Great Medal Prospect, capable of topping the podium!
- Analise Murphy (Sailing-Laser Radial Class) Outside Medal Chance. This young sailor is progressing all the time and is now ranked in the world's top 10. The question is whether London will come a little too early for her.
- Equestrian- Team Showjumping. They have a good shot at a medal providing they qualify for the Olympics.
- Equestrian- Individual Showjumping. We have world-class performers in the form of Billy Twomey, Cian O'Connor, Jessica Kurten, Dermott Lennon.
The above list are those who I consider to be our best chances of medals. However, what is exciting for us is that there are plenty of others who have the potential to finish on the podium, depending on their progression in 2011/12. In this category I would include:
- David Gillick (Athletics-400m) He has switched his training regime to Florida,and is now working with the world's best. Gillick may prove to be a very exciting prospect moving forward to London.
- Derval O'Rourke (Athletics-100m Hurdles) If Derval qualifies for the final then she has more than an outside chance, based on her championship pedigree and ability to produce her best on the big stage.
- Aileen Morrison (Women's Triathlon) Aileen is progressing nicely and is consistently finishing in the top 15 in major events. She is definitely one to look out for.
- Lisa Kearney (Judo-48kg) This young judoka is improving all the time and has been consistently beating some of the world's best. Depending on her progression up to London, she might be worth keeping an eye on.
- Martyn Irvine (Track Cycling-Men's Omnium) He is competing in a new event and is showing good potential, consistently finishing in the top 10 in major events.
- Barry Murphy (Swimming-100m Breastroke) He swam a sensational time this March in America and if he can build on this he might be a real exciting prospect come London.
- Claire Lambe & Siobhan McCrohan (Rowing-Lightweight Double Sculls) They are showing potential and if they can build towards 2012 then they will be in the mix.
- Barry Watkins (Canoe Sprint) This young paddler is improving all the time and is already knocking on the door of the world's top 8-10.
- Also, any of our boxers who actually qualify for London must be viewed as medal contenders, considering the strength of Irish boxing at the moment.
Ireland can reasonably expect to win 4/5 medals in London and it is not inconceivable that this tally could go upwards to as many as 7/8 medals. However, this might be a little too optimistic as some athletes may not produce the goods on the big stage. I have not exaggerated our medal prospects and all of those listed are genuine medal contenders. Why not check out some of the athletes and see for yourself!? I was not anywhere near as optimistic prior to the Beijing Games and what is exciting this time round is that there is plenty of back-up if one or two medal hopefuls do not realise their potential and there is always the possibility that one ore two of our athletes may spring a surprise. In terms of gold medals, I am hopeful that Ireland will win at least one and maybe even a couple more.
My prediction (modest): IRL 1GOLD 2SILVER 3BRONZE
Hope this has whet your appetite for July-August 2012.