Among the younger members of the Irish team in Beijing was 22-year-old triathlete Emma Davis. Like badminton players Scott Evans (20) and Chloe Magee (19), sailors Stephen Milne and Peter O'Leary (both 22), boxers John Joe Nevin and John Joe Joyce and Paddy Barnes (20-ish), athlete Thomas Chamney (24), fencer Siobhan Byrne (24) and swimmers Aisling Cooney and Melanie Nocher (also 20-ish), Davis will be one to watch in London 2012. The future of Irish Olympic sport isn't entirely gloomy!
Here is what Emma had to say about her Olympic experience:
'Today is my last full day out here in the Olympic Village. I fly back tomorrow morning to Dublin with the rest of the Irish team. I have had a wonderful time, met lots of amazing people and learned a great deal.
"The training camp in Matsue, Japan went very well. The facilities were great and Richard and I got a good block of training in. I headed over to Beijing knowing I could have done no more to prepare myself.
"A few days before we flew I crashed my bike and damaged two of the joints in my back, this affected my glute and although the physios worked hard to fix it there was not enough time and the best I could do was to put it out of my head. Luckily during my bike warm up it didn't flare up so I was happy enough on the start line.
"On race day, August 18, I was understandably pretty nervous. The race venue is an hour's coach journey away from the village and the only coach left at 7am. I like to have a stretch and run in the morning before breakfast on race day so I woke early at 5.30am and got on with my pre- race routine.
"The coach journey was a bit of a hassle but I put some ear plugs in and settled down to sleep for a while. When we arrived at the venue everything ran the same as at a world cup but 15 minutes earlier. We lined up as usual in race number order and were called out onto the pontoon. When the gun went I was pleased and anxious to get going. Initially the swim went well and I was leading for about the first 300m then things started to go downhill. I am not sure why, as training had gone really well.
"I ploughed on and exited the swim with a couple of girls just off the main pack. My transition didn't go well; the racks were not the usual ones we use in World Cups and my back wheel got stuck. I lost valuable seconds and as a result missed the pack.
"On the bike I worked hard and managed to catch quite a few of the girls in front. My back and glute was a problem but since there was nothing I could do about it, I just got on with the race and ignored it as best I could. Onto the run I had a good transition and lead my pack out. About 1500m per lap of the run was on blue matting, and under the matting was a temporary metal platform. This reflected the heat and a thermometer read 47 degrees! I felt pretty bad on the run after working hard on the hilly bike course – as I'm sure did everyone else.
"After the race lots of athletes were being stretchered off and 20% of the field didn't finish. I finished five places above my ranking - not a bad result for my first year as a full-time athlete.
I am taking a little break now. I have pushed it hard this year and picked up a few injuries and now is a good time to get over them.
"I did the best job I could and will be back in 4 years time fitter and ready for another shot."