Tokyo 2020: Biggest ever Irish team ready to push boundaries

Some 116 Irish athletes will compete across 19 sports - and there’s no shortage of medal hopes

 

The largest Irish team in Olympic history, across another record of 19 different sports, and for the vast majority unquestionably better one year later than never.

Seemingly on the horizon for an age, for the best part of the last year under a cloud of uncertainty, it’s been a wait like no other too. Now that wait is almost over, for Team Ireland and the other 205 competing nations from every corner of the world, the postponed 2020 Games begin in Tokyo next Friday.

It’s the largest team and a team sprinkled with many distinctive firsts too: in all 116 Irish athletes secured their Tokyo berth as either individuals or with a team, with an additional 11 waiting as reserves should the need be. The previous biggest Irish team was in 1948, when 81 athletes competed at the London Olympics, across 11 sports.

It’s also a long way from the Irish team of just 25 that competed in Tokyo last time round, in 1964, including just one woman, Maeve Kyle, and across seven sports.

Among the firsts this time round are the men’s Rugby Sevens, going where no Irish rugby team have gone before, securing the last available Tokyo spot with their terrific win at the Tokyo repechage tournament in Monaco just last month.

Likewise with the Irish women’s hockey team, who in November of 2019 secured their Tokyo berth by beating Canada in the play-off in Donnybrook, the first Irish female hockey side in history to qualify for an Olympics, after missing out on Rio 2016 in the final qualification match.

Jack Woolley is also set to become Ireland’s first ever Olympic representative in the taekwondo, Michaela and Aidan Walsh also the first sister and brother to make an Irish Olympic boxing team, and likewise Ben and Megan Fletcher the first brother and sister to make an Irish Olympic judo team.

There’s no shortage of medal hopes among these 116 names either, from rowing to boxing, golf to gymnastics, sailing to equestrian. And no doubt potential for a few surprises too.

Team Ireland

We profile every Olympic athlete who will represent Ireland in Tokyo FULL LIST
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