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How Team Ireland Is Shaping Up For The Paris Olympics: Spring 2023 Edition

How Team Ireland Is Shaping Up For The Paris Olympics: Spring 2023 Edition
By John Dodge Updated
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At the start of the year we wrote a state of play for Olympic sports in Ireland and it's time for a bit of an update. There's been no more qualifiers but read this as a summer preview where the action, and qualifiers, really gets going. As ever we'll track our likely qualifiers in alphabetical order.


The winter season was dominated by one athlete; Rhasidat Adeleke. The Texas Longhorn has transitioned fully to the 400m and in her first race of the season went way under the tough Olympic standard of 50.95. The qualification period for track athletes opens on the 1st of July but she'll have no issues repeating that time if fit. Her time would have ranked her 9th in 2022.

The World Championships are in Budapest in August and Ireland has the following qualified already: Adeleke (200m, 400m), Ciara Mageean (1,500m), Andrew Coscoran (1,500m), David Kenny (20km walk) and our mixed 4x400m relay squad. Another 10 or so are likely to be added through the ranking system if they don't achieve the (tough) qualifying marks.


Tokyo Olympian Nhat Nguyen hasn't really kicked on since those games but he should have no problem qualifying for Paris - the rankings started on May 1st.  He's ranked 4th in Europe ahead of the European Games in June. Ireland has also qualified Rachael Darragh (ranked 12th), the men's double of Joshua Magee & Paul Reynolds (9th), the women's double of Kate Frost & Moya Ryan (10th) and the mixed double of Joshua Magee and Moya Ryan (15th) for the European Games.



Boxing is in the midst of an institutional crisis with the long established governing body risking boxing's place at the Olympics with some questionable policy decisions, that seem to have been made at the behest of their Russian sponsors. The recent IBA Women's World Championships were boycotted by several leading nations including Ireland, USA and GB.  The upcoming Men's World Championship look set to be the same. A new body - "World Boxing" - has been set up with the USA at the forefront and the IABA has announced that Ireland will be joining.

The IBA was absent from qualification for the Tokyo Olympics and that is the case once again for Paris. It means that Ireland, along with nations in both political camps, will attempt to qualify at the European Games in Poland this year regardless of the political in-fighting. Our women may lead the way with Kellie Harrington, Amy Broadhurst and Aoife O'Rourke all expecting to qualify at the first time of asking. We'll know more about the team as the summer progresses.


Ireland's 3 international slalom canoeists; Liam Jegou, Jake Cochrane and Robert Hendrick will get their first chance to qualify at the European Games in June. A more likely path is through the World Championships in London in September. Our leading sprint canoeist is Jenny Egan but she competes at the non-Olympic long distances.



Thanks to the sterling efforts of Ben Healy in the early season classics, Ireland has vaulted up the UCI Olympic ranking and currently sits in 15th place. Nations who are ranked 11th-20th will be allowed two spots in the Olympic Road Race for men. The nations ranked 21st-45th will have one spot. There's a long way to go but two spots are definitely in play. Ireland's women have never been more prominent in road racing than they are at the moment with Mia Griffin competing at World Tour level and Megan Armitage winning races for her Arkea team. We have only ever had one Olympic road race participant - Deirdre Murphy in 2000 - but we're currently ranked in the top 45 nations and on course to qualify for one spot in Paris. It will be tight though.

The women's track pursuit team are well on course to qualify. They finished in the top 5 at the European Championships and the opening two World Cup events this year and with 10 team spots available for Paris, only a disaster will stop them now. Qualifying for the team pursuit also allows Ireland to compete in the Madison and Omnium events. 2022 saw Ryan Henderson emerge in BMX freestyle/park. He finished 10th at the European championships but unfortunately broke his arm at the World Championships. He could be an outside shot for a spot in Paris.


Divers will have three chances to qualify for Paris with the first being the 2023 World Championships in Japan in July. Ireland has already selected a 3 person team with 2022 World Junior medalist Jake Passmore making his debut in the senior ranks. He's joined by European finalists Ciara McGing (10m platform) and Clare Cryan (springboard). Cryan and Passmore may link up for a synchronized team at the Worlds but the mixed event isn't an Olympic discipline yet. Irish divers will need to finish in the top 12 to qualify at the first time of asking.



Our show jumping and eventing teams have already qualified for Paris thanks to their results in the 2022 World Championships, finishing fourth and fifth respectively. The show jumping team showed particular promise and were less than a fence away from a medal. They'll remain in contention for the big global prizes over the rest of the Olympic cycle. Our dressage team has shown signs of life recently but qualifying a team will be difficult. We should add an individual spot though and are currently in a ranking position to do so.


Football in the Olympics? Yeah, it's a possibility now that our women's team can challenge Europe's elite. It's very unlikely though as they'll need to finish in the top two of the upcoming European Nations League. Men's qualification is through the European U21 championships and we just missed out through the play-offs.


Ireland will easily qualify 4 golfers for participation in Paris. The current spots would go to Rory McIlroy, Shane Lowry, Leona Maguire and Stephanie Meadow - our team from Tokyo. Seamus Power might be best placed to dislodge Lowry but qualification won't be in doubt for the team.



Rhys McClenaghan is World and European Champion in the pommel horse discipline. He still has to qualify for Paris though and it really won't be easy for him. He must be the top ranked pommel horse gymnast at the 2023 World Championships among those nations who haven't qualified a team. Rhys is ranked number two in the World behind Kazakh gymnast Nariman Kurbanov has beaten McClenaghan in two World Cup events this year. If he doesn't get the spot at the 2023 Worlds, McClenaghan will seek one of the two available spots for apparatus specialists at the 2024 World Cup.

Adam Steele, Emma Slevin and Halle Hilton have qualified to represent Ireland at the 2023 World Championships. They'll be looking to qualify for the all-round gymnastics events and we have a very good chance, particularly in the women's event.


2022 saw the women's team qualify for 2023's Eurohockey finals with the men just missing out.  Both teams ended the year ranked 13th in the World.  With 12 teams to qualify for Paris - effectively 11 with the host taking a spot in each tournament - qualification will be very tight. The qualifying tournaments will be held in early 2024 assuming the women don't win the European championships.




It is unlikely but there are a couple of Irish judoka who could qualify. Joshua Green is ranked 40th in the World and a big World Championship performance in May will see him leap into consideration at 73kg. Rachel Hawkes at 70kg won a ranking event in Riga in March and is also in the 40s in the World Rankings. She too will compete at the World Championships in May.

Modern Pentathlon

Sive Brassil ended 2022 in 28th in the World and she's Ireland's sole representative on the World Cup scene this year. She'll get her first chance to qualify at the European Games in June but hasn't shown the form needed for a top 8 finish so far this year.


Paul O'Donovan and Fintan McCarthy are the undoubted best in the world in their lightweight double sculls event. The Olympic champions added European and World gold medals to their incredible palmares last year. They'll be back for 2023. Our other Olympic medal winning team, the women's four, won European silver before disappointing in the Worlds with a 6th place finish.  It was a rare blot on another brilliant year for Irish rowing.

Sanita Puspure transitioned into the double and won world bronze with Zoe Hyde. Mags Cremen and Aoife Casey won their first major medal with a world bronze in the lightweight doubles. The heavyweight men showed promise too and are on track to qualify in the fours and pairs based on this year's rate of improvement.  Ireland is developing into one of the power nations in world rowing. The 2023 World Champs will see most of the qualification spots decided.

Rugby Sevens

2022 was the year that the Irish rugby sevens teams arrived on the World stage.  The men's team won bronze at the World Cup and finished second in the Dubai world series event. 2023 has been more of a rollercoaster for Ireland with mixed results in the World Cup. It looks likely they'll need to win the European Games in June to qualify with Britain being the biggest obstacle. A final world qualifier would see them in with a shout too.

The women's team rank 5th in the World Series standings with only one event left (Toulouse in mid-May) and that's enough for Olympic qualification with hosts France ahead of them. The issue is that the Irish team has faltered in the last two events, finishing 8th each time. Effectively for Ireland to qualify through the rankings, they need to finish ahead of Fiji and GB. Something they're well capable of doing, but haven't in the last two events. As with the men, they'll have a shot at qualifying in the European Games and through the final world qualifier if needed. If Ireland don't qualify in Toulouse, they'd love GB to get that spot.


Our brightest sailing talent is Eve McMahon who has dominated at youth level in 2022. Qualification for Paris will be primarily through the 2023 World Championships with further spots available throughout 2023 and early 2024 at European and global levels. Finn Lynch won silver at the 2021 Worlds but has shown flashes since. Two 49er crews, including Tokyo Olympians Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove, had mixed results in 2022 and will fight for qualification this year with the first opportunity coming in August.


Aoife Gormally is ranked 25th in the World and will have several events at which to qualify in 2023 and 2024. Qualification for shooting is complicated with overspill between trap and skeet events, qualifying competitions and rankings all in play. There's 28 spots available though, and Aoife is in the mix.  On the men's side Jack Fairclough has recently transfered from GB to Ireland with the express intent of qualifying for Paris. He's down the ranks at the moment but has had some terrific results in the past and could qualify in the skeet event. Gormally and Fairclough will compete at the upcoming European Games.


Daniel Wiffen has emerged as a genuine star in Irish sport, and the Ulsterman is emerging as a star in the world of swimming too. His sensational weekend in Stockholm recently saw him break Irish records in the 400m, 800 and 1,500m freestyles events and it's in the 1,500m where he is exciting most. His winning time ranked him 4th all time (his time has since been bettered this year) and would have been enough to win a medal at every major championships ever raced.  Swim Ireland has stated they will only accept qualifying times, or the lower Olympic consideration times, achieved during the 2023 and 2024 World Championships and the 2024 Irish Open. It means despite being number two in the world, Wiffen hasn't booked a ticket to Paris like some of his contemporaries.

Swim Ireland has announced their team for the the 2023 Worlds in July in Japan with Wiffen, of course, leading the way. He's joined by two others who swam under the tough qualifying times at the recent Irish open. Mona McSharry reached the final of the 100m breast-stroke in Tokyo and could contend for a final again. Tom Fannon is a recent recruit from the GB squad and broke the Irish record in 50m free. If he can repeat that in Japan, he'll book a ticket for Paris. Also on the team for the World Championships are Ellen Walshe, Victoria Catterson, Erin Riordan, Danielle Hill, Shane Ryan, Darragh Greene, Max McCusker, Conor Ferguson and John Shortt. Shortt is only 16 but is already competing at the senior level. Ireland will enter 3 relay squads; men's and women's 4x100m medley and 4x100m freestyle.


Tallaght's Jack Woolley needs to be in the world's top 5 to get a spot without the need for any qualifying tournament but is set to move up after winning the Spanish Open recently, including a final win over Olympic champion Vito Dell'aquila of Italy. Wooley was seconds away from a World Championship medal in 2022 and could go further in the 2023 event in Baku at the end of May. Jack's South Dublin team-mate Leroy Nsilu Dulanda is ranked in the World's top 60 at 68kg but needs a huge year to make Paris.


Tham Nguyen made history with a bronze medal performance at the European Championships. Nguyen won her medal in the Clean and Jerk portion of the event and ranked 5th overal - just 6kg off an overall medal. She's now firmly in the running for Olympic qualification after her 20th placed finish at the World Championships in 2022. Olympic qualification for weightlifting is very complicated. There are overall limits placed on national teams, further restrictions on those with a doping past (all the major nations effectively) and various other intricacies which will mean we won't know the final quotas until just before the games. It would be quite something if Tham could join her badminton playing brother Nhat at the Paris Olympics. Sean Browne continues to be our most likely male qualifier. He was one place out for Tokyo.

Other sports

Some Tokyo Olympians, such as Triathlete Carolyn Hayes, effectively took 2022 off to get their non-sporting careers back on track. She hasn't returned to competitive action yet and James Edgar is our most prominent triathlete. He'll need to improve dramatically to have any chance for Paris.  The 2023 European Games in Poland will see several sports come together and while boxing qualification may our focus, we'll also compete in less traditional Olympic sports such as archery. We'll be keeping track on Olympic qualification all year.





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