If Irish athletes have hopes of performing well at Rio 2016, this is the year in which to qualify. The Irish Sports Council (ISC) has targeted the next 12 months for the majority of teams and elite individuals to earn a place at the Games.
Speaking at the Irish Sports Council's Sports Investment announcement in Dublin ISC chief executive John Treacy said that if Ireland have hopes of doing well in Brazil and equalling the five medals won in London 2012, they need to be focused on competing and not finding a late entry event that will get them to Brazil next year.
It was also announced that an investment package of €19.6 million would go into sport in Ireland through the national governing bodies, which is almost one million up on 2014.
“It’s the worldwide thinking in terms of high performance,” said Treacy.
“What you obviously need to do is get the qualifications done in 2015. Then you’re in 2016 you are only concentrating on one thing and you can put all of your energy into competing in Rio.
“If you are trying to qualify you ultimately can wind up trying to do too many competitions... racing too much and you pass your peak by the time you get to Rio.
“We’ve seen loads of evidence down through the years of people who scrape in around July (2016) and by the time the Olympics come around they don’t have it.”
There have been a number of qualification and prequalification events held already with many more being run this year from the inaugural European Games in Baku through to athletics, boxing, swimming, hockey, sailing and showjumping.
Three Irish boats and as well as an Eventing Team (four riders) have already booked tickets for Rio. In sailing the boat qualifies, not the athlete, although Annalise Murphy, who came fourth in London 2012, qualified last year in the Laser Radial class.
James Espey is also through in the single-handed class and Ryan Seaton and Mat McGovern in the 49er.
“Absolutely this year is the most important (year),” added Treacy. “Also, you get a psychological boost. If you have the qualification now it is in the bag. You can go and do your foundations and do your hard training graft with the comfort that you have qualified and the comfort that you don’t have to peak to qualify closer to the Games next year. That’s really the position we should be in.”
Treacy added that the target of five medals still stands. London equalled the previous best of 1956, where Ronnie Delaney won the 1500m gold in Melbourne.
"We've still five medals for the Olympic Games. The boxing program is doing well. We've three boats qualified and we've the Eventing Team qualified as well and our show jumpers are showing good form," added Treacy.
“I think things are positive. I think it will be hard to achieve it because five (medals) was equal to the best ever at the Olympics. But we are in there with a sporting chance,” he concluded