Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Ireland at the Olympics

The official International Olympic Committee records show that Ireland have had 28 medals at the Olympics (9 gold, 8 silver and 11 bronze) and 215 (62 gold, 62 silver and 91 bronze) at the Paralympics.

But that of course does not tell the full story of the history of Irish Olympians. After all there have been competitors and medalists from the island of Ireland before the first Irish team in 1924 and first Winter Olympic team in 1992. Indeed while the Irish have been every present at the Summer Paralympics they have never appeared at the Winter Games, yet Kelly Gallagher who won GB's first ever gold medal on snow was from Bangor, County Down. Others with Irish roots of course have competed elsewhere other than Team GB as well.

The whole modern issue of Olympians from Ireland was very succinctly put on Channel 4's The Last Leg during the 2012 Paralympics in London.
Alex Brooker (one of the hosts): You’re from Northern Ireland did you not fancy running for Great Britain?

Jason Smyth (double double Paralympic champion right): At the time, I had put it out there that is was Britain or Ireland. I gave them the opportunity, whoever was interested. At the time Ireland came back and were going to help and support and were able to help and Britain were just, whatever. Not really that bothered. And just that Ireland were going to look after me made the decision easy, cause I wouldn't be politically one way or the other.

Therefore in the run up to Rio 2016 and beyond I hope this blog will look at some of those who have some claim to Irishness, of whatever flavour, who have been part of that great Olympic story.