Ryan free to focus on Olympics after grant boost
ON foot of her brilliant sixth place at the World Championships, Dublin high jumper Deirdre Ryan is set to go full-time to prepare for next summer's Olympics.
The DSD star returned to her base in Germany yesterday after scoring on the double in Daegu. Not only did she set a new Irish record to qualify for the final, but she also hit the 'A' qualifying standard for London 2012 and that too has helped restore her to the Irish Sports Council's (ISC) individual grant system.
A top-12 placing at the Worlds gives athletes 'international class' status on the ISC scheme, which is worth a grant of €12,000 for one year.
But getting the Olympic 'A' standard is even more valuable.
It earns 'world class' status, which is worth €20,000 for the following two seasons and Leevale's Ciaran O'Lionaird, who finished 10th in the 1,500m final, is also going to benefit from the same financial injection after getting his 'A' standard before Daegu.
Unlike most of Ireland's team in South Korea, Ryan was not training full-time beforehand, combining work and training in Germany.
She recently finished up a contract to organise a sustainability conference in a private/public collaboration with the United Nations.
But she says now "it is 99pc certain" that she'll go full-time for London.
"Getting my funding back is a huge boost because that will enable me to do that," Ryan said.
"I don't know if having nothing to do outside of athletics would suit me, I'd like to have something to keep me ticking over so, ideally, I'd like to do some part-time studies, maybe some distance learning through DCU."
The 29-year-old was delighted that her years of training finally paid off and quipped: "If there was a medal for persistence, I should get one!"
Ryan tore ligaments in one ankle back in October which made her skip the indoor season and then she did similar damage in the other ankle, which was still giving her trouble going into Daegu.
"But I did a really good warm-up for both the qualifying and the final," she said. "I have changed my technique and one difference is that I've started to use a standing approach rather than a rolling one."
She also credited her improvement to DCU-based Martina McCarthy, who designed her strength and conditioning programme.
Last year just 13 Irish athletes received individual grants through the Sports Council's carding scheme.
Olive Loughnane, Robert Heffernan, Derval O'Rourke and David Gillick all received the maximum grant of €40,000, which is classed as a 'podium' contender.
Paul Hession was the only one to get the next level of funding (world class/€20,000) and eight more athletes (Fionnuala Britton, Ailis McSweeney, Colin Griffin, Ciara Mageean, Kelly Proper, Thomas Chamney, David Campbell and Mary Cullen) received the 'international class' grant of €12,000 each.
Since then Alistair Cragg and steeplechaser Stephanie Reilly have achieved 'world class' status after securing their 'A' standards for the London Olympics.
Ryan and O'Lionaird have now joined this level.