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7 July 2021   |   Blog   |   

Ireland at the Olympics – Ones to Watch

Here at Sports Travel International, we simply cannot wait for the forthcoming Olympic games in Tokyo. After a year of very limited sports and major events we’re looking forward to a fortnight of all you can eat sporting excellence.

Originally scheduled for 24 July to 9 August 2020, the games were postponed and rescheduled (a feeling that most of our runners and cyclists will be familiar with by now) due to the global COVID -19 pandemic. The 2020 Olympics will now be held between 23 July and 8 August.

Nicolas Roche will be representing Ireland in both the road cycling and the time trial event at the forthcoming Tokyo Games. Photo Credit – A. S. O/ Pauline Ballet

It goes without saying that we’ll be keeping an eye on the Marathon Team (Paul Pollock, Kevin Seaward, Stephen Scullion, Aoife Cooke, and Fionnuala McCormack). We’re beyond excited to see the road cycling team (Dan Martin, Nicolas Roche and Eddie Dunbar) in action (with Roche also taking part in the Time Trial event). and, seeing Carolyn Hayes and Russell White take on the Triathlon is sure to be a highlight. But, these Olympics have been touted as potentially Ireland’s most successful yet! Irish athletes are predicted to bag 5 medals, and, with plenty more top ten ranking athletes, could come home with far more besides!

Here’s our list of athletes to look out for over the coming weeks…


Sanita Puspure – Rowing, Women’s Single Scull

“That’s the only medal [an Olympic one] missing from my trophy cabinet, so it would be lovely to have a nice addition to that.”

The 39 year old Latvian born, Irish rower has dominated women’s single scull in recent years. Despite a late start in the sport, Puspure’s career has gone from strength to strength and she is now determined to complete her medal collection with the Olympic bling that eluded her in 2012 and ’16. Many top sports figures, including Irish Sprinter and fellow Olympic Hopeful Phil Healy, are tipping Purspure to take the top spot in Tokyo.

Rhys McClenaghan – Gymnastics, Pommel Horse

The 21 year old County Down gymnast already has an impressive medal record to his name. He took the gold in both the 2018 Commonwealth Games and 2018 European Championships. On both occasions there was stiff competition, including defending world, and twice Olympic champion Max Whitlock of the United Kingdom. No doubt these two will put on yet another impressive display in Toyko this year. Could McClenaghan deny Whitlock a third visit to the top of the podium? Only time will tell.

Kellie Harrington – Boxing, Women’s Lightweight (60 kg)

World and European champion in the 60 kg division, Harrington is proof that good things do indeed come in small packages. The Dublin born boxer also enjoyed a successful career as a 64 kg fighter, but dropped down in weight, because 60 kgs is an Olympic weight class. With her focus firmly on Olympic glory, and years of experience on her side, surely Harrington will prove a fearsome challenger for any opponent.

Fintan McCarthy & Paul O’ Donavan – Rowing, Lightweight Double Scull

Who could forget, at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, when Paul O’Donavan and brother Gary won silver in the Lightweight Double Scull, only narrowly beaten to gold by the French pairing of Pierre Houin and Jérémie Azou. This year Paul is back. This time he’s paired with Fintan McCarthy, with brother Gary acting as reserve. McCarthy and O’Donavan have already achieved great things. The pair won gold in the men’s lightweight double sculls at the 2019 World Rowing Championships, and will certainly be eyeing the top prize in Tokyo.

Jack Woolley – Taekwondo (58 kg)

Jack Woolley is currently world ranked number 4 in the 58 kg division for Taekwondo. The 22 year old has already achieved 4 medals on the European stage, and was previously ranked world number 1 at the 54 kg weight division. Much like Harrington, he has adapted physically to fit into an Olympic weight class. Known for being one of the most flexible athletes in the world, an Olympic medal hopefully won’t be too much of a stretch for young Jack.

Thomas Barr – Athletics, 400 m Hurdles

Thomas Barr’s journey at the 2016 Olympic Games was an emotional and impressive one. He finished second in his heat for the 400m hurdles, producing a season best time of 48.93.The next he broke the Irish record, when he won his semi-final in a time of 48.39. He went on to finish fourth in the final, breaking his newly set Irish record with a time of 47.97 and ending his Olympic journey agonizingly close (just 0.05 seconds off) to a medal. Now, in 2021, Barr is looking to put the demons of 2016 to bed, and bring an Olympic Medal back from Tokyo.

Ciara Mageean – Athletics, 1500 m

Ciara Mageean’s career has not always been a walk, or even a run, in the park. A few years ago serious ankle injuries looked like they may cut the Portaferry athletes career short. But, through careful training, and sheer grit and determination, Mageean is back.  Although competitions have been few and far between in recent months, the 29 year old middle distance runner looks to be in good form ahead of the games. On 24 July 2020, at an event in Bern, Switzerland, she became the first Irish woman to run a sub 2 minute 800 m, adding to her ever growing list of national records.

Mona McSharry – Swimming, 100 m Breaststroke

Earlier this year Mona McSharry made history. She became the only Irish woman ever to have swum under 1:07:00 for 100 m breaststroke. Not only did she go under it however, she blew it away, posting a 1:06.29. In the process she gained automatic qualification for the Tokyo Olympics and broke her own national record, which she had only just set, earlier in the meet! Maybe it’s in her genes though, as the McSharry family won RTE’s Ireland’s Fittest Family back in 2019!

Brendan Boyce – Athletics 50 km Walk

Tokyo will be Brandan’s 3rd Olympics. The 34 year cold of Co. Donegal finished 29th in the 50 km walk in London then improved to finish inside the top 20 at the Rio games. In 2019 he finished a remarkable 6th at the World Athletics Championships, which were held in the punishing heat of Doha, Qatar. Brendan has a 50 km walking PB of  3:48:55. That’s around half an hour faster than the average person runs a marathon and almost 8 km further!

Tanya Watson – Diving, 10 m Platform

At just 19 years of age, Tanya Watson has already made history. She will soon become the first woman to represent Ireland in an Olympic Diving event. Watson’s event is the 10 m platform. Ten metres is over 32 feet. The athletes will reach speeds touching 35 miles per hour, by the time they hit the water, performing gymnastics as they go. Not an event for the faint hearted, but certainly one that’s exciting to watch.




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