The Olympic Council of Ireland has announced the names of twelve athletes who have been awarded Olympic Solidarity Scholarships to assist with qualification and preparations for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Each of the scholarship recipients will receive approximately US$625 per month up until the Tokyo Olympic Games due to be held in August 2020. Athletes will also receive additional funding up to a maximum of US$5,000 to assist with travel costs in connection with competing at qualification events.
The total funding will be worth a little over €250,000 at today’s exchange rates and is a massive boost for the OCI’s stated ambition to put athletes centre stage. This funding will be in addition to any individual funding granted under the Sport Ireland ‘carding’ scheme which will be announced in February 2018.
The OCI submitted the application to the International Olympic Committee’s Olympic Solidarity on behalf of twelve Irish athletes having first invited each of Ireland’s National Sporting Federations to nominate qualifying athletes from their individual sports.
The nominations were evaluated by an expert sub-committee with the relevant expertise established by the OCI’s Executive Board to consider and approve candidates for nomination to the IOC who had the final decision.
In order to be eligible, athletes must be competing at international level in an Olympic discipline that will feature at Tokyo 2020 and have the technical ability to qualify for the Games as demonstrated through recent results.
Priority is given to athletes not in receipt of funding from any other source. The IOC awarded the OCI eight scholarships and one team scholarship but the OCI’s Executive Board decided to invest an additional €140K to bring the number of scholarships awarded up to the maximum of twelve permissible under the scheme.
The athletes who have been awarded scholarships are:
Siofra Cleirigh Buttner (Athletics Ireland) who is currently on scholarship at Villanova Unviersity and who competed earlier this year at the World Athletics Championships in London;
Nhat Nguyen (Badminton Ireland) is a European U17 Gold Medallist and also medalled at the 2017 Poland Open, an event on the senior circuit;
Liam Jegou (Canoeing Ireland) who is a former U17 Vice World Champion;
Mark Downey (Cycling Ireland) a track and road cyclist who secured Ireland’s best ever finish at the U23 World Road Race Championships coming 9th;
Ian O’Sullivan (Irish Clay Pigeon Shooting Association), a former World Junior Champion and current 2017 Scottish Grand Prix Champion;
Cathal Daniels (Horse Sport Ireland) who to date has won 6 European Underage medals;
Leona Maguire (Irish Ladies Golfing Union) the World’s Leading Amateur Golfer for the last 3 years;
Rhys McClenaghan (Gymnastics Ireland) who is the reigning European Champion in the Pommel Horse as well as becoming the first Irish gymnast to ever win a Pommel Horse Medal at a World Cup event;
Megan Fletcher (Irish Judo) Commonwealth Games Champion in 2014;
Denise Walsh (Rowing Ireland) who holds 17 National Rowing titles and won a silver medal at the 2017 European Championships;
Mona McSharry (Swim Ireland) who emerged on the national stage earlier this year with her Gold Medal in the 100m breaststroke at the World Junior Championships.
Jack Woolley (Irish Taekwondo Union) who is now ranked 13th in the World in the 58kg Weight Category.