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Road to Tokyo 2020 - Irish Olympic News



  • Humblest apologies. I mistakenly read "Katie's was as good in rio" above as pertaining to Kellie. My bad!

    I don't know do you remember Katie's post fight interviews in which she said "I shouldn't be losing to those girls.....those girls should not be beating me etc". So either Katie herself got carried away with the divine right thing or she simply believed, like many others, that a fighter who is one of the best, if not the best, pfp amateurs of all time should really hold sway against a very determined and spirited but limited opponent such as Mira Potkonen.

    Again, no disrespect to Mira. She's a tough, honest, durable fighter but, very simply, Katie at her best is a level, maybe two, above anything Mira was ever capable of. It's that simple. I always thought Katie got caught a bit cold against alekseevna, for whatever reason, but I don't believe she was at her peak around that time or heading into Rio. You can call it making excuses, but so be it. She wasn't at her peak and I'm fairly certain of that.

  • Gillick raised some very good points in relation to athletics on the rte website today but I think they could be taken for most of the sports that Ireland participated in outside of the medal winning categories. Essentially he said many of the athletes underperformed and some qualified due to quotas in a particular sport and were out of their depth. Usual themes emerge - underfunding, lack of fulltime coaches, lack of high performance centres. It really comes down to whether as a nation you want to throw all your eggs in one basket and be known for fighting and rowing with the occasional one off individual success story.

    The alternative medal tables make for interesting reading when you compare Irelands performance on a per capita basis and/or GDP.

  • I was a bit surprised to hear we haven't won a single medal in athletics in five Olympic Games. It does need to be added though that athletics is the one Olympic sport that most countries on the planet target for medals : even Team GB only won 6 athletics medals in Tokyo, and no golds.

  • In fairness in the article we are targeting more sports to medal but I hope this is not a round about way of saying that we overacheived and should be happy to go back winning 1 or 2 medals.

    4 medals was decent but nothing exceptional. We are good enough to win 5-10 medals if we put or mind to it.

    Anything below 3 or less medals should be considered a poor Olympics for us now. We need push on. Not just be happy with one half decent Olympics.

  • Well Rob Heffernan won a medal in 2012 in the 50k walk, so that's not quite correct. Obviously he finished fourth at the time but has since been given his medal which he fully deserved.

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  • We're averaging around four medals per Olympics across the last four Olympics, and exactly four medals including one gold across the last three Olympics, so I would say that's par for us now. Less than four medals including at least one gold would have to be considered a disappointment going forward.

    What made this an above par games was the two golds, particularly as they were in two different sports. Almost amazing that we've never managed to achieve that before, but it shows how poorly we were set up before the Beijing games.

    The goal in Paris is to win medals in four different sports, so that's a step up on winning four medals. Again we've never achieved that before, three separate sports is as good as we've done. So it's a fairly challenging target I think.

  • Thats fair enough post. In fairness I might be asking too much. Got to be able to walk before you can run as they say.

    But I do hope that we will least see ambition. We should not just be looking at Paris. We should be trying create a picture of where they see themselves in 2 or 3 Olympics time.

    The Question should be about how we can go about to progress after each games rather than have 1 good games and slip back for next few. We should be aiming a little higher each time.

  • We can aim as high as we like, and we can send better athletes/sportspeople every four years, but there is no rule/progression that says we will even win one medal. It's human competition, and there are dozens and dozens and dozens of countries all competing.

    Take the sports we got medals in. Of the four medals, I think it was, these were from only two sports. One bronze, Aidan Walsh, was a wee bit soft when comparing. That leaves 3 hard won medals.

    Paris could see us win more, the same medals, less medals or no scenario necessarily makes us better or worse (other than medal count) than previous Olympics. The differences between medalling and not can be so so small.

    Example: all our swimmers and track/field athletes in Paris could post better times/performances, and likely not one medal. Our rowers could post faster times in Paris and doesn't mean a medal. Our boxers could be faster and sharper and stronger in Paris, and doesn't mean a medal.

    And this won't stop armchair fans and media etc having digs at our team

  • I know Sport Ireland produced a high performance strategy document that covers the next 3 Olympic cycles just a few months back so there is long term thinking there. Ambitious targets set for Paris, nothing wrong with that once they're realistic at the same time.

    I don't think we're in a terrible place really. It's not that long ago when Olympic cycles invariably ended with feuds between OCI and ISC, blame passed back and forth like a relay baton, and at least one edgelord in the press coming out with a "why are we wasting public money on these losers?" piece. We've come on a ton from those dark days at least!

  • My general impression is the public were happy enough with the four medals. It was a definite help too that Kellie Harrington is so popular and created a real feelgood moment for the nation.

    We probably should be celebrating three good Olympics in a row. We went to Rio with an exceptionally strong boxing team and two gold medal favourites, but for a variety of reasons the whole boxing thing fell apart. We had to fall back on Annalise Murphy and the O'Donovans in the end but had the dice rolled differently, we could have been looking at four or five medals.

    I'd say we're in good shape going into 2024. O'Donovan / McCarthy will be back, very likely Kellie too, women's Fours, McCleneghan for certain (assuming qualification for all of them), the four golfers etc. It's not as if we're relying on a few up and coming athletes and hoping against hope that they can improve by Paris.

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  • Bit harsh on Aidan. He had to come through a brutal European Qualification. Something like 31 nations fighting for 6 spots. Sure he got a bit lucky with the bye and second round draw, but the number 4 seed was in his quarter. Not his fault he was dumped out. Definitely a very hard fought medal all things considered. Well done to him.

  • Just on the long term vision - with regards lightweight rowing, what's the plan for post 2024? It's almost certain that lightweight will be gone post Paris (it was supposed to be gone post Tokyo). Will Rowing Ireland bother bringing through youngsters in this discipline going forward when there is no pathway to the Olympics? Will this be the ultimate death of lightweight rowing, with smaller built people no longer having a future in the sport?

    It won't really affect Paul O'Donovan as he'll be 34 come LA and might have called it a day by then, but this will cut Fintan's career short. Unless these guys can become heavyweights? Is that achievable?

  • In terms of public perception, and being happy with this Olympics - I think the timing was incredibly lucky, in that Kellie won gold on the last day of the games, enabling us to go out on a high.

    If she'd been scheduled in the first week, and then we finished the games on the athletics and gymnastics, I'd say there would be people screaming for heads to roll.

    We're very fortunate that the games close out with one of our strongest disciplines! The memory of the public is very short and fickle....

  • Would there really be anyone screaming for heads to roll? You'd have the usual crowd trying to get a rise saying "Not good enough with 116 entrants we should get 116 golds or else we've failed typical Paddy Irish applauding failure blah blah " but realistically most of the public wouldn't have any problem with it and it'd be forgotten about within days.

    We can even see this on boards. A lot of the posters who were incensed 2 weeks ago demanding the Minister for Sport to call a crisis meeting and sign a cheque for an 8 figure investment into chasing olympic medals immediately have moved on to some other topic, and won't pay attention to or mention the olympics until July 2024.

  • I doubt that tbh. By that logic 2 gold on the last day and nothing else is better than 5 golds in the first week and nothing after.

    This has been a very good Olympics for Ireland. The per capita tables show this (though half of NI population needs to be added to the population to get a more accurate calculation).

  • I get all that. No medal is easy in the Olympics. But his opposition/draw in Tokyo wasn’t really difficult. Two very basic opponents. It’s all relative. His bronze was “soft” under this analysis. And not as you say, a very hard fought medal.

    I suppose my point is that not all medals are the same as regards what it took to get them.

  • On the other hand, Kurt Walker and Aoife O'Rourke were unlucky - both losing to eventual silver medallists.

    I think Aoife is a good prospect for a medal in Paris - she's only just turned 24 and has already been a European champion at 75kg.

  • Definitely. Unlucky to face 2018 WC in her first fight.

    Walker beat reigning WC in his second fight.

  • If or when they do get rid of lightweight rowing, then it looks like coastal rowing will take its place. I don't believe weight is such a critical factor in that discipline so lads who didn't fancy the leap to heavyweight could always consider going down that route. Don't know if there are plans already in place to push it here, but I see they are already doing so across the water where they are hosting the world championships in Wales next year.

  • She looks very stylish too, she's no brawler - light on her feet and skilful.

    It will be interesting to see if Walker stays amateur. He's only 26 and might just be tempted to give the Olympics another go.

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  • I did a small bit of digging into the stats of Irish rowing global success in Olympic category boats. We really are living in a golden generation, which I think is only going to get stronger. Great times indeed.

  • Great stuff. I was reading an article too about how much Irish boxing has improved. Not much more than 15 years ago, Irish amateur boxers trained only twice a week and were seen as a bit of a joke on the international scene. Vastly improved high performance coaching and training has turned things around.

    For the rowers, I've heard that their training is much more intensive than in the past, hence the big improvements in results and performances.

  • We've always had the rowing talent, though. Sam Lynch, Neville Maxwell, Gearoid Towey, Niall O'Toole, Tony O'Connor, Paul Griffin. I'm sure I could throw 4 or 5 more names into that mix if I put my mind to it. Sinead Jennings too, of course. That was a fantastic generation of athletes too, but never had the necessary support structure behind them and maybe never got the luck when they needed it too. Just goes to show, i believe, that high performance works. When it's properly aligned to the clubs and grassroots, when everythings in synch and in tune, the results come more often than not.

    Edit: Sinead Lynch i should have said, of course, to give her her proper name!

  • Trained twice a week is complete nonsense. This article relate to Zaur Anthia and his introduction to Ireland? Most successful committed boxers I know trained 5/6 times per week, and more.

    And our boxers were never seen as a joke in the international scene

  • I'd say lads trained hard enough alright. What the HPU brought was structure and a gradual phasing out of the old excuse and blame culture. Zaur was a well respected coach by the time he arrived and opened up avenues in eastern Europe in terms of training camps which helped bring them on another level.

  • Exactly. You don’t win gold/silver at Olympics and bronze in worlds and gold in euros in the early 90s without serious training…by the 2000s we absolutely knew what was needed to excel internationally.

  • From what I can see, much of western Europe got left behind in the 90s and early 00s in amateur boxing. Even GB had a torrid time of it and had very few Olympic qualifiers and only a tiny number of medallists.

  • Absolutely, last thing you'd say about likes of Carruth or McCullough is that they were shirkers when it came to training! Dunno bout early 2000s though...we'd one boxer at Sydney and one in Athens. Andy Lee got done on countback but to a fighter he should never have lost to in a million years. The break up of the USSR really changed it all in the 90s, 5 or 6 really strong nations to compete against instead of one.

  • Exactly what I was thinking. Soviet break up changed the game!

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  • Absolutely, massive game changer. And, clearly, had to up our game to catch up with how far things had moved on. Would we have done that by carrying on with the way things were going? Almost certainly not to my mind anyway.