Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Rio '16: Eventing team begin epic journey to Deodora

Ireland's eventing team has begun the the task of getting five horses, their equipment and support staff to Brazil  Equestrian  to Rio.
The team finished finished fifth at the London Games of 2012 and the goal for 2016 is to win Ireland a medal  in eventing for the first time since equestrian sport became part of the Olympics in 1912.
Equestrian team leader Triona Connors has already arrived in Rio and  the team is currently in Waresley Park Stud, Cambridgeshire in the UK forfinal last minute training with dressage coach Ian Woodhead and show jumping coach Gerry Flynn.
Only after team vet Hugh Suffern has inspected all the horses and assured himself that they are fit to travel will they set off. Team farrier Nigel Perrott will also be in attendance ensuring all horses feet are in order. Eventing team manager Nick Turner and the five Irish grooms will leave for Rio from London Heathrow, to arrive at the Olympic venue before the horses arrive on Friday evening.
Tomorrow morning, 2.5 tonnes of equipment, feed and forage will be collected from Waresley Park Stud and transported to Stansted Airport where it will be loaded onto an Emirates cargo flight. All equipment is due to clear customs in Rio in time to make it to the equestrian venue in Deodora, Brazil before the horses arrive.
Nick Turner
On Friday at 7am, the horses leave Waresley Park for Heathrow where they will board the Olympic flight to Rio. Horses from other countries will also be on specifically chartered flight.The horses are due to land in Rio at 3.20pm local time on Friday.
Later that day at 5pm,  the five Irish squad riders fly from Heathrow airport to Frankfurt, connecting to Rio.
The eventing competition begins with dressage on Saturday August 6/Sunday August 7, with  the cross-country on Monday, August 8t and the show Jumping on Tuesday, August 9.
The Irish eventing team consists of: Clare Abbott with Europrince (ISH), a 2003 chestnut gelding; Jonty Evans with Cooley Rorke’s Drift (ISH), a  2006 gelding; Mark Kyle with Jemilla, (SHBGB). a 2006 bay mare andPadraig McCarthy with Simon Porloe (PZHK) a 2000 bay gelding.Travelling reserve is Camilla Speirs with Portersize Just A Jiff (ISH) a 2000 bay gelding.

Rio'16: Sailors Set Off

Ireland's six-strong Rio Olympics sailing squad set off for Brazil today, with the opening event in the sailing programme set to begin in just two weeks’ time.
Included in the team are Olympic veterans like Annalise Murphy who narrowly missed out on a medal four years ago in London when she finished fourth, and newcomers like Finn Lynch, who at 20 is the youngest ever Irish helm.  Both go in single-handed Laser boats, and will be the first of the Irish sailors  to take to the water on Monday August 8
Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern compete in the men's 49er and Andrea Brewster with Saskia Tidey in the women's 49erFX.
Seaton and McGovern, who competed in London 2012, will be aiming to capitalise on a number of strong showings in the build-up to Rio. Leading the class are the four-times world champions from New Zealand. Brewster and Tidey survived a scare earlier this year when they were forced to take a three-month injury break to qualify for Rio.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

The late Freddie Gilroy

Boxing legend Freddie Gilroy  has died at the age of  80. The Belfast bantamweight, a member of the St John Bosco club,  won a bronze medal  at  the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne.
Gilroy knocked out Boris Stepanov of the USSR and beat the Italian Mario Sitro on his way to the semi-finals where he was controversially beaten by the eventaul champion Wolfgang Behrendt of German.
After turning pro,  Gilroy won British, Commonwealth and European titles and in 1960, lost on points to France's Alphonse Halimi in a world bantamweight title decider.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Celebrating our Paralypian pioneers

One of Ireland’s first ever Paralympic athletes, Oliver Murphy, will be honoured at the Paralympics Ireland More Than Sport fundraising ball  tomorrow, Saturday July 2.

The marks 57 years to the day since an accident at work decided the course of his life.

“An accident at work that night left me with a broken spine. I nearly died a number of times as I was taken to hospital. The medical staff did a great job on me, thank God, as I very nearly wouldn’t have been here today,' he says.

“Thankfully though, I pulled through and while I had to adjust to life in a wheelchair I had, and still have, incredible support from family and friends.”

Just one year later he, along with Fr Leo Close, Jack Kerrigan, Joan Horan and Jimmy Levins, travelled to Rome for the 1960 Paralympic Games – a Games that would kickstart paralympic sport in Ireland.

It was after those games that Murphy and his team mates founded the Irish Wheelchair Association - an organisation that would change the Irish sporting landscape of Ireland  forever.

“We came home from Rome that year after an incredible time. From there, we formed the IWA and focused primarily on promoting sport. It was all about letting people know that they could take part in sport no matter what.”

Murphy will be honoured, alongside fellow Paralympic athlete Anne Ebbs, on Saturday night as part of a new Paralympic Recognition Programme. All the Paralympic athletes who have represented Ireland at the games over the years will receive a unique number and pin to recognise their achievement.  Murphy will receive the number one pin this coming weekend and Anne Ebbs the number 22, while a special event to recognise all Irish Paralympic athletes since 1960 will take place next year in 2017.

Anne Ebbs, a Paralympic athlete who represented Ireland at the Paralympic Games from 1972 to 1984, wining  silver in 1972 and 1984 and bronze in 1980,  went on to have a considerable career as a sports administrator.  She was the driving force behind the foundation of the Paralympic Council of Ireland (now Paralympics Ireland) in 1987, and served as the organisation’s Secretary General until her retirement in 2008. She was also a longtime member of the Irish Sports Council board.