Thursday 18 January 2018

Grant lifeline for Gillick as AAI may pay out of own coffers

Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

DAVID GILLICK is unlikely to be completely cut adrift by Athletics Ireland (AAI) next season.

Grants are always performance-based and the AAI are sticking firmly to the established criteria, which means wielding the axe on several high-profile athletes who under-performed in Olympic year. They include Derval O'Rourke (31) and Paul Hession (29), whose grants look set to be cut dramatically, but they will still continue on the scheme.

Gillick's case is more precarious. The 29-year-old Dundrum South Dublin sprinter, a two-time European Indoor 400m champion, is coming off two injury-wracked years and failed to qualify for the London Olympics.

He will definitely not retain the €40,000 he has received for the past two years. However, several people within AAI's high performance committee are making a strong case that Gillick be given a grant from the association's own coffers.

The Irish Sports Council's (ISC) recent review of the so-called 'carding' scheme (individual grants) made it clear that the AAI can no longer make a special case for injured athletes, which was the case with Gillick this year.

But it did recommend that athletes caught in this bind can be funded individually from the AAI's separate high performance 'core funding', for which they get a lump sum annually.

This is what is being argued for in Gillick's case ahead of next month's ISC grant application deadline.

After finishing only fifth in her Olympic semi-final in London, two-time European silver medallist and World Indoor champion O'Rourke, who was fourth in the World Championships only two years ago, is understood to be fighting a proposed cut that would see her grant drop from €40,000 to just €12,000.

And Hession, another of Ireland's world-class sprinters, who has returned to his medical studies, is believed to be facing a proposed cut that would see him drop from €20,000 to €12,000.

Irish Independent

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