Ireland targets Olympics medal haul with plan for funding sport

Strategy aims to improve success at Olympics and Paralympics over the next two cycles

This week it was announced that golfers Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry will be among Ireland’s medal hopefuls this year as they were confirmed as competitors in Tokyo. File photograph: Getty

This week it was announced that golfers Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry will be among Ireland’s medal hopefuls this year as they were confirmed as competitors in Tokyo. File photograph: Getty

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A target of winning of up 10 medals at each future staging of the Olympics Games is being set in a Government strategy for funding sport.

The plan sets an even more ambitious target in the Paralympics of 16 medals per games by 2028.

Cabinet was briefed on the High Performance Strategyon Tuesday and it is to be officially launched on Thursday by Minister of State for Sport Jack Chambers.

It aims to improve Irish medal hauls at Olympics and Paralypmics over the next two cycles for both games, Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028.

Ireland’s record at the games has been erratic over the years with athletes taking home just two medals – silver for sailing and rowing – at Rio de Janeiro in 2016 but winning six in London in 2012, with most of those coming from boxing, including Katie Taylor’s gold.

The Paralympics record has been better with athletes winning 11 medals – including four gold – in Rio and 16 medals in London.

Publication of the plan comes just ahead of the Toyko Olympics which were postponed last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic but are due to go ahead next month. This week it was announced that golfers Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry will be among Ireland’s medal hopefuls this year as they were confirmed as competitors in Tokyo.

The new strategy for future games aims to bring about a high-performance sport system that brings consistent success in both sets of games as well as other tournaments like European and World Championships.

Funding pledge

Under the plan, sports where there is the potential to win medals will be identified for support ahead of the games as will talented athletes with medal winning potential in other sports.

The strategy is to be funded as part of a Government pledge to double investment in sport, from €118 million in 2018 to more than €220 million by 2027. It focuses on several key areas including performance investment in elite sports and athletes, providing world-class coaching and support services as well as high-quality facilities and equipment.

Among its targets is that Ireland will be an “eight to 10 medal country” at the Olympics within the next two cycles of the games and that Irish athletes will win between 12 and 16 medals consistently at the Paralympics.

The High Performance Strategy was prepared by a Sport Ireland working group which consulted with athletes and examined success rates for comparable countries like Denmark and New Zealand.