The Olympic Council of Ireland are proud to announce that five Irish Olympic hopefuls will receive Olympic Solidarity scholarships to support their bid to qualify for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games which will be held in PyeongChang, South Korea in February 2018.
The five are, Tess Arbez, Patrick McMillan Kieran Norris who compete in Alpine Skiing, Kieran (Seamus) O’Connor, Snowboarder (slopestyle and half pipe) and Brendan Doyle in the Skeleton. Apart from O’Connor, who was part of a team of five who competed at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, all are bidding to make their Olympic debut.
The Olympic Council of Ireland applied for these scholarships through the International Olympic Committee Solidarity movement, with each athlete receiving grants of €17k plus €4.7k for additional funding to cover their transport costs to Olympic qualification competitions.
President of the Olympic Council of Ireland, Sarah Keane said: “The Olympic Solidarity funding is a very welcome boost for these athletes who have been put forward by their national federations for support in their bid to qualify and compete at the 2018 Winter Games. We know and understand the commitment of these athletes and are pleased that the International Olympic Committee has agreed with our recommendation for them to receive this support
One of the scholarship recipients, Doyle a former sprinter said: “This scholarship will make a real difference to me. I was inspired to take up the sport of skeleton when I saw the women’s Olympic bobsleigh team training at the National Athletics stadium in Santry where I did my sprint training.”
The Dubliner took to the sport easily, transferring his power and acceleration of sprinting to skeleton. However, it has not been an easy journey for Brendan who struggled to stay in the sport due to the financial investment. He subsequently suffered an assault as a member of An Garda Siochana leading him to leave the force due to the physical and mentally traumatic nature of the accident.
He has spoken openly about the depression that followed and how returning to sport helped his mental and physical recovery. Since his return to sport he has posted competitive times which lead him for consideration for the scholarship: “Now I can focus my efforts on becoming the best I can be and hopefully make that Olympic dream a reality.”
The Selection Process
- IOC Olympic Solidarity programme criteria states the athletes had to be of international-level, practising an individual sport included in the PyeongChang Olympic programme, have the technical level required to be able to qualify for the PyeongChang Games.
- Proof of the athlete’s technical sports level had to show through recent results obtained at national and international competitions and verified by their International Federation Technical Departments.
- Snowsports followed their internal selection process and nominated four athletes. The fifth athlete is from Skeleton who have only one athlete competing on the International/World Championship circuit
- Athletes receive US$1500 per month starting 1st March 2017 (through to Pchang should they qualify) and each athlete receives US$5’000 additional funding to cover their transport costs for participation in Olympic qualification competitions.