WEST Cork’s Olympic hopefuls have a new target to aim for: July 23rd, 2021.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has confirmed that the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games will start on July 23rd, 2021 and run until the August 8th, 2021.
The Olympics were due to start in Tokyo this July but have been postponed due to the coronavirus.
This now gives Irish athletes who have qualified already and those hoping to qualify a new goal to aim for – and that applies to a host of West Cork’s elite athletes too.
Sprinter Phil Healy will fancy her chances of qualifying for her first Olympics, while a number of Skibbereen rowers – Paul O’Donovan, Fintan McCarthy, Gary O’Donovan, Jake McCarthy and Shane O’Driscoll – are battling it out for a seat in the Irish men’s lightweight double that has already qualified for the Games.
Other Skibbereen rowers like Emily Hegarty, Natalie Long, Aoife Casey and Lydia Heaphy are hoping to win places in Irish boats – the women’s four and the women’s lightweight double – that have yet to qualify for the Olympics, but are in with a chance.
Cill na Martra boxer Christina Desmond still has a chance to qualify for the Olympics, too.
Speaking after the new Olympic dates were announced, Chef de Mission for Team Ireland in Tokyo Tricia Heberle said: ‘Now the athletes have a start date for the Games, they can work with their Performance Directors and coaches to start mapping out preparations. Importantly for athletes and sport, the next information we need clarity on are any changes to qualification and the rescheduling of qualification events. This will take some time, so in the short term the focus remains the same, stay healthy and safe over the coming months.
‘The priority now is for everyone to following the government guidelines to protect Ireland and the rest of the world against further spread of this virus. A July 2021 start means that we have plenty of time to reactivate preparatory plans and for athletes currently in modified training or on a break of sorts, this period of time can still allow some positive impact on performance.
‘If we are smart, this enforced break can make Team Ireland even better.’
Meanwhile, the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games have been rescheduled to take place between August 24th and September 5th, 2021.