"It's The Big Pink Elephant In The Sport" - Derval O'Rourke On The Problems Facing Irish Athletes After London 2017

"It's The Big Pink Elephant In The Sport" - Derval O'Rourke On The Problems Facing Irish Athletes After London 2017

It was a very disappointing IAAF World Athletics Championships for Ireland with their worst overall performance since 2005.

Rob Heffernan's eighth-placed finished in the men's 50 kilometre walk was the best finish of the Championships, and guaranteed Ireland a spot on the Placing Table.

The Placing Table ranks countries' performances based on top-eight finishes. Ireland finished in 65th and joint-last place alongside Moldova. Over 130 teams failed to have an athlete place in the top-eight.

The team failed to earn any Season Bests on the track, with marathon runners Mick Clohissey and Claire McCarthy along with Heffernan all getting their quickest times of 2017 in the Championships.

Speaking to Second Captains, former World Championship finalist Derval O'Rourke said there is much need for improvement from Athletics Ireland at senior level.

There's loads of reasons to be concerned

I think it's terrible. As a nation, we are far better than that. I think you have to look at the events, and look at the times it takes, and the jumps and the distances it takes to make the top-eight and wonder where is the problem. Why are we not making the top-eight?

Luck comes into it a tiny bit. We were unlucky with Thomas Barr getting sick. He hadn't an ideal season before that so we still don't know what he would have done there.

I would be concerned, certainly. We have a new high performance manager in Paul McNamara, but he's inherited a sport where I don't think the systems are that great.

I'm retired three-and-a-bit years. In certain ways, I don't think a lot has improved. I worked very much outside the federation's system. Rob Heffernan has worked very much outside of it too.


When asked what she thought were the issues with the Irish team, the Cork hurdler thought the level of coaching the athletes were getting was a problem.

We have a massive issue in coaching in Ireland. It's the big pink elephant in the sport. We will pay a high performance manager a grand wage. We'll pay the physios, but we don't pay coaches. We don't have any coaches that that's their job.

You're depending on volunteers to get athletes to a world-class stage, and perform at a world-class level. I managed to do it because I had two coaches that were world-class but they were still volunteers. When I retired, they essentially retired from that level of coaching. They walked away.

You can listen to the full interview below.

Daniel Kelly

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