Meet the 11 Cork-based Irish Olympians stepping out in Rio…

With 11 Olympians based in Cork competing in Rio, here’s my rundown of who they are and when they’re competing

Lizzie Lee

Sunday, August 14

Marathon, 1.30pm Irish time


The confirmation that mother-of-one Lizzie Lee was headed for Rio came earlier this year on her 36th birthday.
Having spent her pre-Rio training in Madrid, Lee is super excited about standing on the start line and giving it her all in Brazil. Her accomplishment is all the more amazing as she trained while working as a full-time employee at Apple and being a mother to her two-year-old daughter Lucy.

Under the guidance of her coach Donie Walsh – himself an Irish Olympic marathon representative in Munich in 1972 – the Leevale AC athlete was in pole position for selection since running 2:32:51 in the Berlin Marathon last September – knocking more than five minutes off her previous best and well inside the 2:45:00 qualifying standard. It was, and still is, the fifth fastest Irish women’s marathon of all time!
Michelle Finn

Saturday, August 13

3,000m SC R1, 2.05pm Irish time


Kanturk’s Michelle Finn will represent Ireland at 3,000metres steeplechase at the Olympics in Rio in 2016.

Born in 1989, Finn competed at the 2015 World Championships in Beijing but unfortunately didn’t qualify for the final.
The Leevale FC member’s personal best in the event was this year at 9:43.19 set in Amsterdam.
Finn will join Kerry O’Flaherty and Sara Treacy in Rio, given she and O’Flaherty were inside the qualifying standard of 9:44 for the IAAF World Championships in Beijing this year.
Finn is a member of Leevale AC in Cork and is a regular at local road races here. She was also a member of the Irish Cross Country team that won Bronze at the European Cross Country Championships in 2014. Her third place time of 9:43.34 was also a PB and was a big improvement on her previous best of 9:49:00 set in May of this year.
Gary and Paul O’Donovan

Sunday, August 7

Lightweight men’s double sculls (Heats)


Skibbereen brothers Gary (23) and Paul (22) O’Donovan are one of Ireland’s hopefuls having claimed gold at the European Rowing Championships in Germany earlier this year.
The pair claimed first place with a stunning performance in the A Final of the lightweight double sculls, while their fellow Corkonian Sanita Puspure finished third in the women’s single sculls final.
The O’Donovans took more than two and half seconds off their semi-final time to overhaul leaders Norway, finishing in a time of 6:57.760, ahead of Germany in second.
Gary is a marketing student in CIT, while Paul remotely studies physiotherapy with UCD, as they live between Skibbereen and with their grandmother in Ballincollig as they train daily at the National Rowing Centre in Farran.
The duo also won silver at the World Cup Regatta in Italy this year and Cork’s chances of an Olympic medal in this department are looking good.
Sanita Puspure

Saturday, August 6

Single sculls (Heats)

imageBased in Ballincollig, the Latvian-born mother-of-two has been living in Ireland since 2006 and first competed for Ireland in 2010.
In fact she was the only Irish rower at the 2012 London Olympics.
This year alone Puspure won bronze at the European Championships in Germany in the single sculls but more importantly came second in the FISA European and Final Olympic Qualification Regatta in Lucerne, Switerland, in a time of 7:24.76.
Prior to heading to Rio, Puspure spent time in Spain at a training camp with Sinéad Jennings-Lynch and Claire Lambe, the lightweight double scull duo.
Sinéad Jennings-Lynch and Claire Lambe
Saturday, August 6
Lightweight Double Sculls (Heats)

imageSinéad Jennings-Lynch and Claire Lambe are just the third and fourth Irish women to qualify for an Olympic Games in rowing.
Jennings is originally from Donegal, a mother-of-three, and is impressively heading for Rio aged 40.  Claire Lambe is from Dublin and along with Jennings relocated to Cork to be able to train at the National Rowing Centre at Inniscarra, alongside Sanita Puspure.
This will be their first Olympics having failed to qualify for London 2012, however in just their second-ever regatta together, the pair finished third in the B Final of the World Rowing Championships in Aiguebelette, France last September to secure an Olympic berth.
Bryan Keane

Thursday, August 18

Triathlon, 3pm Irish time


Bryan Keane qualified for Rio in the triathlon after the final selection event in Yokohama in Japan, and it’s been an eight-year journey for him to get to Brazil.

Keane needed to finish inside the top 55 world rankings, after almost two years of selection events, and ended up 53rd – his 20th place finish in Yokohama sealing the deal in May.
A horrible injury prevented him from making the grade for London 2012, when riding his time-trial bike near his home, at about 40kph, when he was hit, side-on, by a car travelling at a similar speed. He shattered his right kneecap, spent 10 weeks in a leg brace, and despite his best efforts to qualify for London, it wasn’t to be.

His decision to keep going for Rio was reinforced in 2013, at Ishigaki in Japan, when he became the first Irishman to make the podium at a World Cup event, finishing second. Now 35, Keane’s determination will be doing Cork proud when he lines up with 55 of the world’s best triathletes near the Copacabana circuit.
Robert Heffernan 

Friday, August 19

50km Walk, 12pm Irish time


In March of this year, the court of Arbitration for Sport favoured the IAAF ruling and Robert Heffernan was upgraded to Olympic bronze medal.

Heffernan had finished fourth in the 50km race at the London 2012 Olympics, finishing seven minutes faster than the previous national record. His achievements in London were the top two performances for the Irish Athletics team at the 2012 Olympics, and given the revelation in 2015 that Russia’s Sergey Kirdyapkin was suspended during specific periods between 2009 and 2012 by his federation (RUSADA) and had most of his results annulled —including world titles, but not his Olympic title.

However,  in a statement, the IAAF disagreed with the selective disqualification of results applied by RUSADA, and Heffernan became Cork’s latest Olympic medalist.

With the help of his wife, former Irish athlete Marian, Heffernan will be eager to go one better again in Rio, and who’d bet against him!
Alex Wright 

Friday, August 12

20km Race Walk, 6.30pm Irish time

download (1)London-born Alex Wright began his race-walking career at Brymore Academy, England. In 2013 Wright moved to Cork having qualified for Irish citizenship due to his Tyrone father and joined Leevale AC. Part of his reasoning for moving to Leeside was to train with fellow Irish internationals Brendan Boyce and coach Robert Heffernan. White placed 13th at the 2010 Commonwealth Games and 31st at the 2013 World Championships. He competed for Britain at the World Championships in Moscow, and was the first British athlete to compete at the World Championships since 1996. This year he finished sixth in the 50k Olympic qualification event. His time of 3:48:32 was a personal best and well inside the qualifying time for Rio. Home now is in Cork and under the guidance of our very own Rob Heffernan, Wright has come a long way since wearing the Irish singlet.
Brendan Boyce

Friday, August 19

50km Walk, 12pm Irish time


Brendan Boyce is originally from Letterkenny in Donegal, but like Wright moved to Cork to train alongside Togher AC’s Robert Heffernan in late 2012.
Boyce competed at the 2012 Olympic Games in the 50k walk, coming 29th, where he recorded a personal best time of 3:55:01 – three minutes faster than his previous best.
He also competed at the 2013 World Championships in Athletics where he came 25th.
The Letterkenny Athletic Club member hit the qualifying mark for the games in March.


Ireland's John Jermyn from Cork.

Ireland’s John Jermyn from Cork.

THREE Cork players have been selected as part of Irish men’s hockey team to travel to Rio for the Olympics.
Church of Ireland’s John Jermyn and brothers Conor and David Harte, from Bandon, are all in the travelling party.
David, who is the number one goalkeeper in the world, will captain the Irish side in Brazil. Both play professionally with David based in Kampong in Holland and Conor with Racing in Brussels.
Ireland’s record goalscorer John Jermyn earned a surprise recall to coach Craig Fulton’s national panel in March of this year, with the 34-year-old last lining out in December 2012 when he helped Ireland to bronze at the Champions Challenge in Argentina.
There, he passed the 150 international cap mark and raised his goalscoring tally to 87 to head the all-time Irish list. On the club front, Jermyn has scored 11 times in the EY Hockey League in a mixed campaign with Church of Ireland. HarteTwinsHockey_large

In the group stages in Rio, Ireland will take on India in their opening game on August 6, followed by games against the Netherlands, Germany, Canada and Argentina.
It is 68 years since Ireland was represented in a team event at an Olympic Games.
Ireland: Jonny Bell, Chris Cargo, Peter Caruth, Mitch Darling, Paul Gleghorne, Lisnagarvey, Kyle Good, Ronan Gormley, David Harte, (captain); Conor Harte, John Jackson, John Jermyn, Eugene Magee, Shane O’Donoghue, Alan Sothern, Kirk Shimmins, Michael Watt. Travelling reserves: Tim Cockram, Michael Robson and David Fitzgerald.


Saturday, August 6
India v Ireland, 3pm
Sunday, August 7
Ireland V Netherlands, 10pm
Tuesday, August 9
Ireland V Germany, 4pm
Thursday, August 11
Canada V Ireland, 3pm
Friday, August 12
Argentina V Ireland, 11pm


Friday August 12
20km Race Walk Final

6.30pm Irish time

Alex Wright (Leevale)
Saturday August 13

3,000m SC, W R1
2.05pm Irish time

Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle)
Michelle Finn (Leevale)
Sara Treacy (Dunboyne)

Sunday August 14

1.30pm Irish time

Fionnuala McCormack (Kilcoole)
Lizzie Lee (Leevale)
Breege Connolly (North Belfast Harriers)


Monday August 15

3,000m SC, W F
3.15pm Irish time

Kerry O’Flaherty (Newcastle)
Michelle Finn (Leevale)
Sara Treacy (Dunboyne)
Friday August 19

50km Race Walk 
Noon, Irish time

Robert Heffernan (Togher)
Brendan Boyce (Letterkenny)
Alex Wright (Leevale)

Evening Echo

August 2016


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