The Irish Sports Council announced today that four sports - sailing, boxing, equestrian and rowing - are to receive major grants to finance their preparations for Athens 2004.
These four sports have won medals at European, World and Olympic level in recent years and are Ireland's best chances of success in Athens 2004.
In addition, grants have been allocated to assist the Irish women hockey team's preparation for the Hockey World Cup in Perth in November this year.
For the first time ever the Sports Council produced high performance plans detailing a comprehensive and integrated approach to preparation for world-class performances.
This radical new approach is the result of the implementation of recommendations in "The Sydney Review" and the Irish Sports Council's "High Performance Strategy".
Pat O'Neill Chairperson of the Irish Sports Council said: "The support of the Government is essential in implementing our High Performance Strategy in full. The NGBs have embraced the new process and are investing the money in the coaches and the athletes to ensure maximum benefit for sport."
The plans are focused on the needs of the athletes, integrating the existing programmes offered through NGB grants and the International Carding Scheme, to provide a world-class sports support framework.
The Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, Mr. John O'Donoghue TD, announced the grants totalling €1.15m, the first major allocation from the €3m the Government committed in Budget 2002 to the first year of the Irish Sports Council's High Performance Strategy.
Funding will be made available to Athletics Ireland on the completion of their plan.
Minister O'Donoghue T.D. said: "The €1.15m allocated will significantly boost prospects of success at Athens 2004. This funding has been granted to support excellent performance plans prepared by sports organisations determined to compete successfully for Ireland."
The plans will boost prospects of success by providing full time squads with full time professional support.
Additional support will be made available for international competitions, specialist training camps, world-class coaching, additional sports science and medicine, specialist equipment, and administration.