Facilities may only be one small step towards sporting success, but many in athletics are in celebration mode after various projects took a giant leap towards becoming reality.
Chief among them is a new indoor athletics facility at Cork Institute of Technology which, after a joint application with Athletics Ireland, was awarded €9.22m under the Large Scale Sport Infrastructure Fund (LSSIF). The outdoor track at CIT will also be resurfaced.
That was just one of 25 projects to receive funding from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, which announced a total of €77m for the various projects.
Dundrum South Dublin Athletics Club is also set to benefit after its joint application with Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council secured €5.25m for its proposed multi-sport campus at the St Thomas grounds in Rathfarnham that will include an outdoor track, gym, jogging trail and indoor sprint track area. The total cost is expected to come in at €10m.
A joint application by Limerick City Council and Athletics Ireland to construct an outdoor track in Newcastle West was also successful, with €1.25m of the required €2.5m granted for the project.
As a golden generation of talent emerges in sprint events, the news comes as a hugely welcome development for Irish athletics as it looks to nurture the next generation towards senior success. Long gone are the days when athletes in technical events were forced to go abroad to find the proper facilities to reach a world-class level, although there remains much distance left to run when it comes to Ireland’s investment in coaching.
Field events have historically been chronically underfunded both in terms of coaching investment and the provision of proper facilities, but there appears some light on the horizon on the latter front. An application by Wexford County Council to upgrade the athletics facility in Enniscorthy was successful, with €300,000 to be made available to build a throwing cage for discus and hammer as well as provide a sports amenity building.
In Wicklow, the running track at Shoreline Sports Park is also set to be replaced with just over €300,000 awarded for the project.
Swimming also received a major windfall with the awarding of €8m – just under half the total cost – towards the construction of a new pool in Galway that will have the ability to host national and international water polo and short course swimming events.
When it comes to the international stage, few sports produce more bang for its investment buck than rowing and so it was only right that the facilities at the National Rowing Centre will receive a facelift; an application by Cork County Council and Rowing Ireland receiving just over €600,000 to replace rowing and landing pontoons and upgrade the racing course.
Meanwhile, an application by the Irish Athletic Boxing Association to construct a viewing gallery and new boxing ring at the national stadium was also successful, with €300,000 awarded towards the project which is expected to cost just under €500,000.