From Judo to sailing, shooting to the pentathlon, here is an exclusive IrishCentral preview of who to watch from Ireland in this year’s Olympiad XXX.
1. Lisa Kearney, Judo, Belfast @Kearney_judo (Elimination Round July 28th, 10:30 am)
Yes, Judo. You read it right. She will be the first Irish athlete to compete in this event for the emerald isle. Kearney has proven herself as a World Champion in 2010 in Somoa. The Scotland-based judoka faces a difficult field this summer in the 48 kg category as she is also recuperating from a ligament tear. Her coach, Ciaran Ward, is no stranger to the games himself having competed in 1992 and 1996 in Judo.
2. Derek Burnett, Trap (Shooting), Longford (Qualification Round, August 5th, 9am)
No spring chicken at 41, this Olympiad will mark Burnett’s fourth quest for Gold. His best finish was 7th in the 2004 Athens games. Burnett should have a shot in London at Bronze in the 2010 European championships in Kazan, Russia.
3. Eion Rheinish, Canoeing, Leixlip, County Kildare, @eoinrheinischpr (1st Heats, July 29th, 1:30 pm)
The sportsman, currently ranked 27th in the world-cup standings, is a seven-time world cup finalist in this discipline who finished fourth in Beijing and is looking to wet his appetite for a medal in London. When not at the Olympics you can find Eion at the Salmon Leap Canoe Club in Leixlip.
4. Keiran Behan, Gymnastics, Surrey (Qualification Event, July 28th, 11 am)
This may be a typical Olympic Sport for the Americans but it is foreign to the Irish. Behan is only the second Irish gymnast in history to represent the country at the games. His strength is the floor event for which he won the 2011 world championship and finished fourth in London qualifying. This is even more impressive considering Behan blew out both his knees in 2010.
5. Sanita Puspure, Rowing, Ballincollig, Co. Cork @rihpp, (single scull) (1st Heats, July 28th, 9:30 am)
She is the rowing team for these games and the first female Irish competitor in the event since Frances Cryan finished seventh at Moscow 1980. Puspure, of Latvian descent, impressed at the Olympic qualifier finishing fourth last May in Lucerne. She received her Irish passport in 2011.
6. Annalise Murphy, Sailing (laser radial), The Rathfarnham, Co Dublin, @annalise_murphy (Preliminary Races, July 30th, 12 pm)
Ms. Murphy was born to sail. Her father Con owns the Round Ireland Speed Record and her mother Kathy sailed for Ireland in Seoul 1988. The first woman to win the Irish National Championships in 2010, she has made her mark with a 6th place finish in the 2011 World Championships. Currently Ms. Murphy is ranked 14th. After her Olympic turn she will continue her studies at UCD.
7. Peter O’Leary, Sailing (star class), Crosshaven, Co. Cork, David Burrows, The Malahide, Co. Dublin, @olearyburrows (Preliminary Races. July 29th, 12 pm)
This dynamic duo sailed their way to the games after a top 11 finish at the ISAF World Sailing Championships in Perth, Australia. They are riding high on a wave of confidence having bested the current gold, silver, and bronze medalists in the event at the pre-olympic trials in Weymouth. The team is anchored by David Burrows, considered to be Ireland’s most adept international sailor, in his fourth Olympiad for Ireland.
8. Gavin Noble, Triathlon, Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, @gavontwitt (August 7th, 11:30 am)
There is a picture of Gavin Noble when you look up the word “triathlete” in the Dictionary. Since 2002, he has reigned supreme in the event and has the distinction of being the first representative of Ireland to compete in the Triathlon at the Olympics. In preparation for the event, Noble reportedly spent time at the altitude house in Limerick.
9. Natalya Coyle, Pentathlon, Co. Meath, @ natalyacoyle (August 12th, 9am)
The Irish athlete partakes in the long and storied Olympic tradition of that of which is the pentathlon. The sport, celebrating its 100th anniversary at these games is arguably the hardest in the games being a combination of shooting, running, riding. Not all at the same time but events scheduled on different days. The three-year veteran will return to Trinity college after the games to continue her studies in Business, Economics and Social Studies.
10. Chloe Magee, Badminton, Raphoe, County Donegal, @chloemagee (July 28th 8:30 am)
Ms. Magee is the great Irish hope in the fast racket-based game. Ranked 55th in the world, she is a member of Ireland’s badminton dynasty as her brothers Sam (and frequent doubles partner) and Daniel join her on the national team. She looked to better her performance in 2008 Beijing, where she was routed in the second round.