News of vaccine for Tokyo-bound athletes a relief for Irish Olympians
‘I think it’s great in terms of relieving a lot of stress and worry for a lot of athletes’
Phil Healy: “I was always confident the Games would go ahead, but this is just an extra bonus.” Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
Ellen Keane: “It just means one less thing to worry about and the sooner we get it the better.” Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho
Jack Woolley: “It’ll be a relief . . .It’s about getting into the best way possible to feel a bit more concentrated on only the Games.” Photograph: Alexander Djorovic/Inpho
Aoife Cooke: “I was pleasantly surprised at the news on Thursday morning.” Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho
Phil Healy, Ireland’s fastest woman, set to qualify for Tokyo in the 200m, recently qualified with the mixed 4x400mrelay.
“Super news about the vaccines, and a great step forward for all those involved, in terms of the safety of the athletes and the staff of all the teams. Not just in the lead up to the Games, during the Games, but for our return back into the country as well. We’re going to be around a lot of different countries.
“I’ve said before the vulnerable and those in need should be put ahead of Olympic athletes, needed to be the priority, but these vaccines coming in this form now is welcome news. There’s always going to be some stress with travel, but this is an extra safety net and makes a big difference.
“I was always confident the Games would go ahead, but this is just an extra bonus, even for the locals in Japan, and everyone else around.”
Ellen Keane, Paralympics swimmer aiming for her fourth Olympics, bronze medal winner in Rio.
“My initial reaction is relief, every athlete has been trying to make sure they’re as safe as possible, and there was always some fear, paranoia, if we get Covid at this stage, it mightn’t only jeopardise out last five years of work, it could also jeopardise our team-mates. It isn’t just ourselves we have to be thinking of.
“Obviously we’re still going to be as careful as possible, even with the vaccine, and there will be still be a lot of rules around contact in Tokyo, but it just means one less thing to worry about and the sooner we get it the better, just in case there are any side effects. As Paralympians we have a little more time.
“I’m not worried about the Games not going ahead, there’s too much invested financially, mentally, so much as stake, it would give the whole world a boost.
“I know it’s always hard seeing others putting forward for a vaccine, ahead of anyone who hasn’t received a vaccine, so I don’t take this lightly, appreciate it so much, and I want to go to Tokyo to do my best to make my country proud, my goal is to provide the country some joy while I’m out there.
Jack Woolley, 22-year-old taekwondo athlete from Tallaght, the first Irish Olympic qualifier in the sport
“I haven’t been told too much just yet but it’ll be a relief. My dad has had his. It’s about getting into the best way possible to feel a bit more concentrated on only the Games. I want to be able to focus on the competition and not have any other factors creep in.
“You want to go out and give 100 per cent, you don’t want to be losing focus on exterior things.
“It wasn’t really a worry for me, it was more for my dad because I live at home. I wanted to keep him safe as much as possible. For myself I wasn’t too fussed. Obviously I was sticking to guidelines, wearing masks where I had to and using hand sanitiser.”
Aoife Cooke, recently qualified for the Tokyo women’s marathon, improving her personal best by almost four minutes to 2:28:36.
“I was pleasantly surprised at the news on Thursday morning, I think it’s great in terms of relieving a lot of stress and worry for a lot of athletes and also a lot of people in Japan.
“Hopefully we can be a lot more confident now that the Games will go ahead, because I was always a little worried they might still get cancelled.
“This news definitely relieves that a little bit, and I think like most people can feel more confident now about Tokyo.”