It is hard to believe that it is thirty-two years since I attended the Olympics in Moscow. Probably the greatest adventure of my life was going behind the Iron Curtain in 1980. I have always taken a big interest in the Olympics so heres my guide to the Irish Olympic Team of 2012.
Boxing: Katie Taylor, Co Wicklow (lightweight)Irish Flagbearer. Paddy Barnes Co Antrim (light flyweight), Michael Conlan Co Antrim (light flyweight). John Joe Nevin Co Westmeath (Bantamweight) Adam Nolan Co Wexford, (Wellterweight) Darren O’Neill, Co Kilkenny (Middleweight)………….Katie is a big hope in the Womens Boxing, the first time women have boxed at Olympic level. She is a four-times World Champion. Paddy Barnes is a bronze medalist from 2008. I rate him very highly to go even better. All the boxers are genuine medal candidates.
Swimming: Barry Murphy, Co Dublin. Gráinne Murphy Co Wexford. Sycherika McMahon Co Down. Melanie Nocher Co Down……….no real prospects of medals but the team will be going for personal bests.
Gymnastics: Kieran Behan London…….wont get a medal but for a guy who was told that he may never walk he has done pretty good.
Modern Pentathlon: Natalya Coyle Co Kildare. Arthur Lanigan O’Keeffe Co Kilkenny……a comparatively new sport in Ireland both have done well to qualify for the thirty six available places.
Badminton: Chloe Magee Co Donegal. Scott Evans Co Dublin……..no real medal prospects but qualifying in both Mens and Womens Singles is an achievement in itself.
Shotting: Derek Burnett Co Longford……Trap Shooter he is competing in his fourth Olympics.
Judo: Lisa Kearney Co Antrim………….Irelands first Judo player to qualify for Olympics.
Triathlon: Aileen Morrison Co Derry. Gavin Noble Co Fermanagh………Aileen has emerged as a genuine world talent and should do well.
Cycling: Martyn Irvine Co Down. David McCann Co Antrim. Nicholas Roche Co Dublin. Dan Martin Co Dublin……Martyn goes on the Track and the other three guys will ride the Road Race, which is a bit of a lottery with tactics playing a part. Anything could happen.
Equestrian Dressage: Anna Merveldt-Steffens Co Kildare. (Horse… Coryolano)……not the best equestrian discipline for Ireland but Annas second Olympics.
Equestrian Show Jumping: Billy Twomey Co Cork (Horse…Tinkas Serenade)….Billy is in the Worlds Top Ten. Cian O’Connor Co Meath (Horse…Blue Loyd) it would be quite a story if Cian won a medal as he actually won gold at Athens in 2004 but was stripped of the medal because his horse tested positve after eating a banned food supplement.
Equestrian Eventing: Mark Kyle Co Dublin (Horse…Coolio). Aoife Clark Co Kildare (Horse…Master Crusoe) Camilla Spiers Co Kildare (Horse…Portersize Just A Jiff). Michael Ryan Co Limerick (Horse…Ballylynch Adventure). Joseph Murphy Co Westmeath (Horse….Electric Cruise). Unlikely that any rider will take an individual medal but Irish horses tend to show a lot of resiliance and courage over the gruelling threeday event. An outside chance of a Team Medal.
Canoeing: Eion Rheinisch Co Kildare. Hannah Craig Co Antrim. Andrej Jezierski Co Cork. Polish-born Andrej might surprise people.
Rowing: Sanita Puspure, Co Dublin. Born in Latvia and may be a surprise.
Sailing: Peter O’Leary Co Cork/David Burrows Co Dublin (Star) James Espey Co Down (Laser) Annalise Murphy Co Dublin (Laser) Matt McGovern Co Down/Ryan Seaton Co Antrim (49er) Scott Flanigan Co Dublin/Ger Owens Co Dublin (470). With five boats entered its a strong team. And the fact that English weather should not be alien is a good thing. Good showings expected from Annalise and the Star crew.
Athletics: Joanne Cuddihy Co Kilkenny (400 metres & Relay). Derval O’Rourke Co Cork (1100 metres Hurdles) Stephanie Reilly Co Wicklow (Steeplechase) Fionuala Britton Co Wicklow (10000 metres) Tori Pena California (Pole Vault) Deirdre Ryan Co Dublin (High Jump) Ava Hutchinson Co Dublin (Marathon) Linda Byrne Co Dublin (Marathon) Catriona Jennings Co Donegal (Marathon) Olive Loughnane Co Galway (Walk) Laura Reynolds (Walk). …..400metre relay from Joanne Cuddihy, Caitriona Cuddihy Co Kilkenny, Jessie Barr Co Waterford, Clare Bergin Co Dublin Marian Heffernan Co Cork Michelle Carey Co Dublin.
Paul Hession Co Galway (200 metres) Ciarian O’Lionard Co Cork (1500 metres) Alastair Cragg South Africa (5000 metres) Mark Kenneally (Marathon) Rob Heffernan Co Cork (20k/50k Walk) Colin Griffin Co Leitrim (50k Walk) Brendan Boyce Co Donegal (50k Walk)……a strong team but no medals.
Good luck to them all.