Derval: Athletics Ireland must seek ‘athlete-friendly’ approach

Irish Olympian Derval O’Rourke has called on Athletics Ireland to become more athlete-focused when considering financial outlay in future.

O’Rourke, who is preparing for her season with a grant of just €12,000 for the second successive season, highlighted in her Irish Examiner column that the High Performance Unit has a budget of almost €1 million but under €200,000 goes to athletes.

“What strikes me as unfair, perhaps even hypocritical, is that the funding which is allocated directly to athletes is the only part of the €968,000 (€800,000 from the Irish Sports Council) which is accounted for down to the last euro and every recipient is named. It’s the most discussed aspect of Irish Sports Council funds but it is actually a very small slice of the pie.

“In 2014, €168,000 goes directly to 11 athletes, last year four of whom produced medals at a senior championship, Rob Heffernan as world champion, Fionnuala Britton, Ciarán Ó Lionáird and myself.

“Meaning the cost of three support staff (High Performance Director, Team Coordinator and Athlete Services Coordinator) far outweighs the 11 athletes’ direct funding, and unlike the athletes’ incomes, this information is much more difficult to access and certainly salaries and names are not listed. It’s unclear how much is spent on expenses.

“For athletics to be a success, I believe the process needs to become more athlete-friendly. It’s tough enough to go out on the track and battle, I definitely don’t need to be battling with my association as well, trying to understand how they choose to spend €968,000.”


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