Breakthrough Games for Irish Athletes
Athletics Ireland Release
- Feidhlim Kelly
Irish athletics had a breakthrough Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro with a number of world class performances highlighted by Thomas Barr’s (Ferrybank) fantastic fourth place in the 400m hurdles underlining the development of the High Performance programme stewarded by Kevin Ankrom.
The team will arrive home this evening on Lufthansa flight LH980 scheduled for 17:10 at terminal 1 and we would love to see people welcome home our Olympians who competed with such distinction.
Barr’s 47.97 clocking is truly world class territory – the last athlete not to medal running sub 48 was in Atlanta in 1996 by Sweden's Sven Nylander in 47.98 who also finished fourth. Until the final, only one athlete since 2013 had run under 48 seconds. The last time four athletes went under 48 seconds was fifteen years ago.
The Ferrybank athlete's time on the IAAF scoring table equates to a 9.92 100m, a 3:47 mile and a 2:06 marathon.
Robert Heffernan (Togher) finished a magnificent sixth in the 50km race walk in 3:43:55 in his sixth Olympic Games. This was the first Olympic Games since 1980 in Moscow that two men (Eamonn Coghlan and John Treacy) have come in the top 8 in their event.
Alongside Barr and Heffernan were a number of athletes who finished in the top 20. Mark English, Ciara Mageean (both UCD) and Sara Treacy (Dunboyne) were 17th overall in their respective 800m, 1500m and 3,000m steeplechase events. Brendan Boyce (Letterkenny) was 19th in the 50km race walk and Fionnuala McCormack (Kilcoole) was 20th in the marathon. McCormack's run was the best ever finish by an Irish woman in the Olympics.
The majority of Irish athletes exceeded expectation and Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders) with his time of 2:16:24 was the third fastest Irish man in the history of the Olympics in the marathon behind John Treacy and Jerry Kiernan.
In terms of qualification from the first round, it was the most successful Games since Atlanta in 1996. This provides a good barometer as historically Irish athletes have struggled to progress past the first round. It gives a platform for development and is a sign of the increasing depth and preparation at the top end.
Of the 17 athletes 13 were making their Olympic debuts including three of our leading athletes Thomas Barr, Mark English and Ciara Mageean.
High Performance Director Kevin Ankrom said:
“The overall performance at Rio is one which reflects really positively on the athletes, their coaches and the AI support teams which worked hard to make Rio a success. Since we launched the High Performance Plan following the London Games, we have expanded our investment in HP athletes to over 150 athletes in 2016 to broaden and strengthen the base for future years.
“When I came to Ireland to take the position of HP Director, one of the biggest challenges was to create a support system for all HP athletes while trying to fill the gap which had developed over time, with young new athletes. It was brilliant to see these young men and women display their talent and potential in their first Olympic Games. This has been made possible by the support of Sport Ireland and through the funding raised by Athletics Ireland directly.”
“We have significantly progressed in many areas and have set a good platform for more success in the next two Olympic cycles. There has been really positive progress through each championship culminating in an Olympic Games where the Irish athletics team produced one of its best ever overall performances. While we were close to achieving medals the prospects for success in 2020 and 2024 is there to be built upon.”
Athletics Ireland Athletes Rio Olympic Results
Men’s 400m Hurdles - Thomas Barr (Ferrybank) heat 2nd 48.93; semi-final 1st 48.39; final 4th 47.97
Men’s 800m - Mark English (UCD) heat 3rd 1:46.40; semi-final 5th 1:45.93
Women’s 800m - Ciara Everard (UCD) heat 8th 2:07.91
Women’s 1500m - Ciara Mageean (UCD) heat 2nd 4:11.51; semi-final 11th 4:08.07
Women’s 3,000m Steeplechase - Sara Treacy (Dunboyne) heat 3 12th 9:46.24, final 17th 9:52.70; Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle) heat 1 14th 9:45.35; Michelle Finn (Leevale) heat 2 11th 9:49.45
Men’s Marathon - Paul Pollock (Annadale Striders) 32nd 2:16:24; Kevin Seaward (St Malachy’s) 64th 2:20:06; Mick Clohisey (Raheny Shamrock) 103rd 2:26:34
Women’s Marathon - Fionnuala McCormack (Kilcoole) 20th 2:31:22; Lizzie Lee (Leevale) 57th 2:39:57; Breege Connolly (North Belfast Harriers) 76th 2:44:41
20km walk - Alex Wright (Leevale) 46th 1:25:25
50km walk - Robert Heffernan (Togher) 6th 3:43:55; Brendan Boyce (Letterkenny) 19th 3:53:59; Alex Wright (Leevale) DNF
Women’s Pole Vault - Tori Pena (Finn Valley) Group B 14th 4.30m