With the Olympic Games fast approaching, competitors from Norn Iron are qualifying for two teams. Up to three people have been selected for the British Rowing Squad and there will possibly be two in the British Mens Hockey Squad.
Meanwhile Michael Conlan from Belfast has qualified for the Irish Boxing Squad (52kg), Ryan Seaton (County Antrim) and Matt McGovern (County Down) will be in the Irish Sailing Squad and Aileen Morrison from Derry will compete in the Womens Triathlon.
Over the next few months, there will be Qualification tournaments in Mens Hockey and Womens Hockey…and several Ulster players will be involved in both Irish teams. The Boxing Qualification tournament will include Paddy Barnes from Belfast. Paddy won bronze in Beijing.
Other ompetitors from the north will be hoping to compete for Ireland in Judo, Athletics, Swimming, Equestrianism and Cycling.
The balance of probability is that there will be more northerners on the Irish team tha on the British team. Ironically the British team is officially “Great Britain and Northern Ireland” and the Irish team is simply “Ireland”.
One of the most interesting athletes hoping for a place in the Irish Athletics squad is American-born Gladys Ganiel-O’Neill who is a member of the North Belfast Harriers. Gladys has achieved the Olympic “B” qualification time on two occasions most recently when she ran in the Houston Marathon two months ago. As a former marathon runner myself………well ok I ran ONE marathon twenty nine years ago……I wish her well. Ireland can enter an athlete in the Marathon if the athlete achieves the “B” standard or up to three athletes if they have achieved the “A” standard. With two Irish athletes qualified with the “A” standard one more place is available and hopefully Gladys can take it.