Sport Ireland is again likely to carry out a comprehensive Olympic debrief similar to the 2012 report when the Irish Athletic Boxing Association (IABA) came in for a strong degree of criticism despite their team’s success in claiming four medals in the ring.
Carried out by London consultancy firm Knight, Kavanagh and Page, the 2012 document was based on interviews with 122 athletes, coaches and officials across the 15 sports involved and delivered recommendations for the constituent parts as well as broader conclusions.
Though positive overall, the report highlighted major concerns as to how the IABA interacted with its high-performance unit, pointing out that then head coach Billy Walsh and his staff were subject to an unacceptable level of interference from the parent body and its committees.
“There is,” said the report, “arguably a case for insisting that certain aspects of the IABA committee structure are either disbanded or have the elements of their constitutional remit that have enabled them to make decisions to cut across those made by the PD and his team amended.”
All that was on the back of a superb Games in the ring at London’s ExCel Arena. The 2016 report will come after a disastrous Olympics in Brazil which saw a superb eight-strong team return home empty-handed and an American team led by Billy Walsh claim three medals.
With Walsh gone, Zaur Antia still holding the fort as interim head coach, a number of the programme’s best fighters about to turn professional and accusations of over-training and poor accommodation in Rio doing the rounds, the debrief will make for interesting reading.
IABA CEO Fergal Carruth has already confirmed that the boxing association will conduct its own post-mortem and John Treacy, his Sport Ireland counterpart, is taking a softly-softly approach for now as the dust continues to settle.
“There is a review going on and we will obviously look at it carefully,” said Treacy who stated his faith in the IABA was “shaken” when Walsh departed late last year.
“The results weren’t what we were hoping for but let the review get on with its business and we will go from there.”
It was March of 2013 before the then Irish Sports Council published its overall, sport-specific findings from London so it will be some time before the final word can be delivered on a boxing team dogged by the Michael O’Reilly scandal and a number of questionable judging decisions.
Not that it will all make for painful reading.
Had the boxers picked up even half the medals expected of them then Rio would have gone down as another superb Games for Team Ireland and Treacy was keen to point out to how the rising tide in Irish elite sport has resulted in the lifting of most boats.
That positivity was shared by James O’Callaghan, high performance director for the Irish Sailing Association, who pointed to the successes of Annalise Murphy and the O’Donovan brothers as reasons for cheer moving on to Tokyo.
“It means the world to win a medal,” he said. “I had said that we were due one but I wasn’t sure that we were going to get one this time around and we did. It’s fantastic and massive for sailing obviously but its massive as well for Irish sport.
“Boxing has led the way and rightly deserve the plaudits. All of us have been rightly looking towards their programme and now rowing and sailing have punched through. Sport Ireland now have another two sports that have medalled and it augurs well for the future.”
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