Support structure puts athletes on track for Olympic success

Irish Sports Council chief executive, John Treacy believes Irish athletes seeking Olympic success have a better support structure than ever before.

The team for London is taking shape at present, with athletes qualifying in a host of disciplines on a weekly basis, most recently in sailing and swimming.

“The qualifications are coming and it’s great” said Treacy. “The governing bodies, who we’ve worked very closely with over the last eight years, are well equipped in terms of planning and coaching, the athletes in terms of camps, international competitions, supports and services, good coaching… All the pieces are there and we’re seeing the fruits of that investment coming through.”

While sport suffered only a slight reduction in terms of funding, there is a greater demand now for the taxpayers to get as much bang for their buck as possible.

So how do we quantify success at London?

“We want people to qualify, to get ‘A’ standards, and we do support the OCI in terms of their policy on ‘A’ standards. We’re very clear on that.

“We have set targets with the governing bodies in terms of people getting into finals. We’d like to get to nine-to-12 finals.

“The third component is winning medals. From junior, all the way to international, those numbers have been rising steadily and we’ve targeted two or three at the Olympics.

“You want to get people in great shape. You know when you’re dealing with elite sport, anything can happen on the day and you need a bit of luck.

“What I would say is the system is there to support the athletes and we’ve never been better prepared.”

An Olympic silver medallist himself in the marathon at the Los Angeles Games in 1984, Treacy could hardly have imagined a situation where standards had improved so much that Ireland would qualify four athletes for the women’s marathon and have to leave one at home.

“It’s very hard for Maria McCambridge.

“Your heart would go out to her but it’s a good position for Ireland to be in. We’d like to see people emerge but we’d like to see people tipping at their heels behind them as well to keep the momentum going. It’s a sign that progress is being made.”

Treacy was in Athy yesterday for the launch of the SPEAK report on Local Sports Partnerships for 2011 by Minister of State for Sport, Michael Ring.

“Elite is one pillar, the second pillar is the participation side, which is far more important,” Treacy insisted. “What you’re talking about is the health of the nation. The goal is to get people out walking, jogging and instil a love for exercise in people.”


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