Irish woman set for top Olympic role

THERE was good news for Ireland ahead of next year’s Olympic Games in London following the appointment of Dr Marie-Elaine Grant to the International Olympic Committee’s Medical Commission (Games Group).

Dr Grant, a member of the Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists, becomes the first Irish woman to receive an IOC appointment.

She has been given a prime role within the Commission for the London Games and will monitor all physiotherapy activities and facilities for the 205 nations participating.

During the Games it is expected that there will be a total involvement of up to 800 physiotherapists.

In addition, she will be responsible for providing the Medical and Scientific Department of the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne with guidelines on the organisation of physiotherapy services for the Olympic Games and is now the contact person for the IOC for all issues related to physiotherapy and rehabilitation.

Dr Grant has served as Chief Physiotherapist to the Irish Olympic teams for five consecutive Olympic Games commencing with the 1992 Barcelona Olympics through to the 2008 Beijing Games.

She has also served with the Irish Winter Olympic teams in Turin 2006 and Vancouver 2010 as well as 10 European Youth Olympic teams.

Welcoming the appointment, Pat Hickey, president of the Olympic Council of Ireland, said her appointment is a tribute to Dr Grant for work within the Olympic family over the years and an honour for Ireland.

“Marie-Elaine’s promotion to the IOC Medical Commission is well deserved,” he said. “She has done sterling work for Ireland’s Olympians for many years and her outstanding skills will now enhance the work of the IOC at the highest level.”

Meanwhile, the president of Athletics Ireland, Liam Hennessy, has welcomed the cut off point for Olympic qualification for athletes which has been set at July 9 next year.

Along with John Foley, CEO of Athletics Ireland, he met with Pat Hickey, and Hon General Secretary, Dermot Sherlock, last week. “The standards to be achieved will be known in April and athletes will have from May 1 this year to July 9 next to achieve those standards,” he said.

“We are very pleased with the OCI’s absolute clarity on this matter. We will have our national championships on July 7/8 — a week after the European championships in Helsinki — and immediately following the championships we will be submitting our final nominations for the Olympics to the OCI for ratification.

“We are also happy with the relay situation. The final date for qualification will be a week earlier — following the European championships — when the top 16 countries in the world will be finalised by the IAAF.”

It’s early days yet but, as things stand, the women’s 4 x 100m and 4 x 400m teams have excellent chances of qualifying. At last year’s European championships they achieved the qualifying standards for the world championships and both teams will be going to Daegu in August.

Qualification for the walks and marathons is under way since January 1 and the Bord Gáis Energy Cork City Marathon on the June Bank Holiday Monday is one of the events approved for Olympic qualification.

The Cork marathon course has always been measured by an Athletics Ireland certified measurer. For the 2011 race, the course will be measured by an IAAF-certified measurer ensuring that times recorded can be used to qualify for the world’s leading events.

“The current qualification standards of 2:18 for men and 2:43 for women are modest,” Liam Hennessy said. “In fact, after consultation with the Marathon Initiative people, headed by Dick Hooper, we have reduced our qualification standards for the world championships to 2:17 for men and 2:38 for women and we would expect a similar situation for London 2012. Even those times are modest by world standards.”

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