'By speaking out, I hope things will change' - Former Irish athlete Olive Loughnane reveals ticket problems in the past
Former Irish walker Olive Loughnane has revealed she could only ever get one single ticket in her four Olympic Games and had to decide whether to give it to her mother or father.
Loughnane spoke to Independent.ie following claims by Brazilian police last night that there is a series of e-mails between former Olympic Council of Ireland president Pat Hickey and head of ticket agency THG, Marcus Evans.
In an email, dated August 3, Mr Hickey allegedly told Mr Evans that he can use all of the National Olympic Committee tickets allocated. Pro10 was the Authorised Ticket Reseller (ATR) for the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI).
Since the scandal broke, it has emerged that other athletes' families had trouble securing tickets to watch their loved ones in action in Brazil.
Last night, Loughnane tweeted: "Competed in 4 Games. Can only remember getting one single ticket for my event.
"I got the tkt for either Athens or Beijing. Asked them which of my parents I'd give it to?!?!"
And speaking to Independent.ie today, the 2009 world champion said she hopes that by her speaking out, similar problems will not arise in the future.
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“It’s like what I said on Twitter. I don’t want to be overly negative. It’s about fixing the problem now,” Loughnane told Independent.ie.
“There is an opportunity to make sure nothing like this happens going forward.”
Since the scandal broke, it has emerged some family members of the Irish athletes had trouble securing tickets, with some claiming they had been told by Pro10, the authorised ticket seller, that they had been sold out since January.
“It’s frustrating to think that there was a bunch of tickets there, if that is in fact confirmed,” added Loughnane. “I don’t know if that was the case for previous Olympics.”
Loughnane has represented her country in four separate Olympic Games but revealed that there was never any clear indication that there were tickets available to her family and was only ever given one.
Independent.ie is awaiting a response on the availability of tickets for athletes’ families from the Olympic Council Of Ireland (OCI).
“I am not here to whinge or moan. As a retired athlete it is easier for me to speak out. I asked (for tickets) in Sydney and they were not forthcoming.
“I did get one for either Beijing or Athens, I can’t remember now. As an athlete you get on with it. You should be doing something more productive and that’s what I did.
“People are shocked, I am not shocked. I just got on with it as athletes do.”
While the alleged ticket touting scandal has, undoubtedly, overshadowed the achievements of Irish athletes, Loughnane is heartened by the success across so many sports in Rio.
The Cork woman points out that outside of the three medal positions, the next barometer of success is a top-eight finish and that was achieved numerous times in a variety of sports in Brazil.
“There were great success stories. That’s what the Olympic Games are all about,” added loughnane.
“ They performed very well. Even towards the end Arthur (Lanigan O’Keeffe) and Natalya (Coyle) did exceptionally well in the modern pentathlon. The next best thing to a medal is a top-eight finish.
“There was an improvement across a number of sports and that’s promising. When Sports Ireland go looking for funding, they have something they can use.”