Sunday 23 July 2017

Athletes are losing trust

John Greene

John Greene

W HEN it comes to Irish athletics, it seems, every silver lining has a cloud. Derval O'Rourke's European Championship medal barely papered over the cracks in the Irish team and her comments immediately after the race merely confirmed the suspicion that there is deep dissatisfaction among our elite athletes at the way the sport is being administered here.

This dissatisfaction was again evident last week when David Gillick gave his side of the story over his non-appearance for the heat of the 4x400m relay. It had been claimed by Ireland's team management that Gillick refused to run the heat the morning after his disappointing show in the 400m final, but the athlete says he was actually never due to run the heat. Gillick puts the blame firmly at team management's door.

Wherever the truth lies hardly matters any more. The best that can be said about the situation is that there are serious communication issues between those in charge of administering the sport and those Irish athletes at the top of their chosen disciplines.

What's worse, however, is that there is clearly also a serious breakdown in trust. Restoring lines of communication can be a lot easier than restoring trust and the concern must be over what state of readiness the team will be in for the London Olympics, now just two years away.

O'Rourke and Gillick, and Paul Hession too, have enjoyed relative success in their careers, enough at least to have the confidence in their ability to work with their own coaches, and to their own timetables and goals. The less experienced members of the Irish team are not so fortunate. The fear is that this will hamper them in two years' time.

jgreene@independent.ie

Sunday Independent

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