OCI election: Sarah Keane used to swimming against the tide
Legal expertise of the sole woman on the OCI board a potent asset in her bid for top job
Sarah Keane: “I do believe that there are changes required in relation to how the [OCI] board operated.” Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
The mother of three, who lives and works in Dublin, has never been one to shirk a fight in the boardroom or in the courts.
Even her initial move into the sports industry was no smooth affair. She became the first CEO of Swim Ireland in 2004 only after taking out an interim injunction to prevent the National Governing Body from appointing a different CEO after they had tried to back out of their original decision to appoint her.
A former member of the Irish water polo team, Keane had left her position as an associate partner with Dublin’s Matheson Solicitors (Formerly Matheson Ormsby & Prentice) after receiving the offer.
Her qualifications include an honours degree in Law, a masters in Commercial Law and diplomas in both Corporate Management and Financial Management.
Her early years as swimming’s CEO were dominated by issues that had begun before her arrival involving complex litigation between Swim Ireland, their insurers and victims from child abuse scandals.
She was elected to the board of the Olympic Council of Ireland in August 2014 and is a member of the board of Ireland Active (an umbrella body for many organisations involved in the leisure and fitness industry) as well as the Federation of Irish Sport.
She is seen as focused and capable and in her positions in the OCI, FIS and Swim Ireland one of the leading women in executive positions in Irish sport. With Sonia O’Sullivan, who is not running for re-election, she is the only woman on the current OCI board.
In a recent interview with RTÉ she said: “I do believe that there are changes required in relation to how the [OCI] board operated and that needs a wide group of people to believe in that level of change in order to implement it.”
“It’s been through a very, very tough time and now it needs to move forward. It needs to put the athletes first. It needs to work with small and big organisations much more closely on their Olympic journey.”