Wednesday 22 May 2019

Athletics: AAI insist 'comprehensive' Olympic review will be worth wait

Cliona Foley

ATHLETICS IRELAND (AAI) has still not completed a post-Olympic review – a full four months after the end of the London Games.

It had been expected that a report would be completed in time for this week's monthly board meeting, but it will now not be presented until January.

AAI employed British consultants Knight, Kavanagh and Page (KKP) to undertake the review on their behalf and say the reason for the delay is because they are being so thorough.

"We have asked them to contact every athlete, every coach and every manager involved," said AAI chief executive John Foley.

"It took longer than anticipated because many of the athletes were abroad. However, I'd rather that this review is as comprehensive as possible than rush it through."

KKP recently completed the carding scheme review for the Irish Sports Council (ISC) and are also working on a post-Olympic review of all sports for the ISC and Olympic Council.

Last weekend's success at the European Cross-Country Championships has, not for the first time, seen Irish athletics end the year on a high.

But the London Olympics was a far less successful affair, with walker Robert Heffernan the only track and field athlete to produce a stellar performance; he finished fourth in the 50km.

The so-called 'home Olympics' were viewed as Ireland's best chance to shine for many years, but most of the athletics team seriously underperformed.

And off the track, the Games were prefaced by a debate about the marathon selection criteria, an embarrassing row over the selection of the women's 4x400m relay team and some surprising comments by high performance director Kevin Ankrom, who criticised Derval O'Rourke and Paul Hession for not travelling to London earlier.

Several athletes who competed in London were cleared to participate despite being hampered by injury, which seemed to directly contravene AAI's official selection criteria.

In contrast, several of Ireland's rising young stars, who had come within a fraction of making the 'A' standard and were in flying form, did not get the chance to compete in London.

KKP's review of the carding scheme was clear-thinking, concise and hard-hitting, so it is expected that they will bring some equally thorough analysis to their report on why there was such widescale under-performance by Ireland's athletes at the 2012 London Games.

Irish Independent

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