Mná na hÉireann: Ireland’s Olympians! (part 1)
So who the hell are they? Team Gaelick took a look at Ireland’s female athletes who will be competing for Olympic glory. Here’s part one!
Linda Byrne Athletics (Marathon)
Dublin’s Linda is our national champion in the marathon, and reigning national cross-country champion, and she won the Women’s Mini-Marathon last year. Oh and she was also the best Irish woman at the recent Great Ireland Run, winning the national 10km road title in the process. She told Joe.ie that she’s looking forward to competing with the other Irish girls:
I find the girls really nice. I think it will be great to have them in the build-up. Hopefully we will get a chance to train together a bit and when we get over to London we’ll get to be together and doing the same event we’ll be able to help each other.
Fionnuala Britton Athletics (10,000m)
Only Ireland’s second woman to win the European Cross Country championships, Fionnula has changed disciplines to the 3,000 metres steeplechase, the 5,000 metres AND the 10,000 metres. Jaysus I’m knackered thinking about it. This is the 28-year old’s second Olympics, but is hoping to do even better this time. Her fourth place in the European Championships 10,000 metres in Helsinki last month. She was gutted but it could just make her even more hungry for London glory.
I am really upset with that. Fourth is the worst place to finish, no one wants to finish fourth. I need to try and get this out of my system now; I have another 10,000m in a month at the Olympics.
Natalya Coyle Athletics (Modern Pentathlon)
Aged 20 years, from Ashbourne, Co. Meath, Natalya is a Business, Economics and Social Studies student at Trinity College Dublin. She is the first Irish woman to qualify for Ireland in the sport of Modern Pentathlon (disciplines: swimming, running, equestrian, fencing and shooting) at the London Olympics 2012 She is a Trinity College Dublin sports scholarship recipient and has been nominated by Torch Relay presenting partner Samsung.
Pretty impressive stuff eh? Oh she’s only been doing it for three years. Imagine, three years and she’s in the Olympics. Mad!
Ava Hutchinson Athletics (Marathon)
Another marathon runner who actually hails from the same club as Linda, above (Dundrum), Ava is the fastest Irish female marathon runner. She has run all over the world, most recently in Houston and is looking forward to London. She rather humbly says that she wants “to run a personal best time and with that, to be as competitive as possible” at the Olympics, but she is a serious contender. She describes qualifying for the games as:
A mixture of both relief and enormous happiness that, as clichéd as it sounds, a life-long dream come true.
Caitriona Jennings Athletics (Marathon)
Ireland’s third Marathon entry in the Olympics, Caitriona is also one of our oldest contestants at 31. Originally from Donegal, Catriona won the Mini-Marathon this year (in 35 minutes) and is only chuffed to be heading off to London
For me personally it is brilliant that I’ve been selected and going to London. All my focus from now until August 5th and the marathon is on training and being in peak form for the day of the race.
She’s only been running marathons for a wee while, though, so a medal is looking like a distant dream. Still, she qualified, the good thing.
Olive Loughnane Athletics (Race Walking)
Olive hails from Cork but literally walks the globe competing for Ireland in World championships, Olympics and European championships with great distinction.
She won silver in the World championship in 2009 and won on the 2011 World Race Walking circuit in early 2011.
A regular on Irish athetics teams, Loughnane has a resume to be proud of.
Derval O’Rourke Athletics (100m Hurdles)
It’s yer wan from the ads on the telly! There’s a reason Derval is famous round these parts. The Cork legend is the two-time European silver medallist and 2006 World Indoor champion on the 100m hurdles.
According to The Irish Times, “At age 30 it will almost certainly be her last Olympics, and the first goal will be to make the final – because after that, as O’Rourke has often proved in the past, impossible is nothing. London will be her third Olympics: she ended up in hospital with sickness after Athens, and was well below her best in Beijing, so the hope really is that this time she actually gets to enjoy it.” Preach, bro!.
She told the Sunday World:
For the two minutes before the race all I want to do is rip the heads off my other competitors… That’s a general feeling between all the girls. That same feeling follows you for the next two minutes of the race, but as soon as the race is over, that feeling leaves and we’re all friendly again.
Janey Mac, Derval!
Tori Pena Athletics (Pole Vault)
Tori is described as an Irish American/Mexican American pole vaulter, don’t you just love that? The Irish part steams from her maternal grandmother who was from Derry, but sure that’s good enough for us to cheer her on, ya good thing Tori.
Lots of things are coming together with my vault, I’m very pleased and 4.60+ should be very doable this outdoor season
Great to see another Irish woman qualify.
All images are with huge thanks to The Irish Times, who have a full list of Irish Olympic competitors here.
Stay tuned for part 2!