OLYMPICS Athens Review Launched by Minister O'Donoghue

02 Mar 2005

"The Athens Review draws on the lessons of the last four years and on international experience to set out how we can achieve consistent success at Olympic and Paralympic Games. It is a landmark document in the development of a sustainable high performance system in Ireland"

Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, Mr John O'Donoghue T.D.

Download the Athens Review attached below this article.

The Athens Review recommends the continuation of Government investment in high performance sport as a basis for long term Olympic and Paralympic success. This can only be achieved with substantial, sustained and targeted investment over many years.

Acknowledging that there has been significant improvements in support systems for elite athletes, particularly through the implementation of the Sydney Review, the Athens Review recommends greater concentration of support on those athletes and sports with real prospects of achieving success at Olympic and Paralympic level.

The Review concludes that the investment decisions in high performance sport have been fundamentally sound. However competitor nations have been investing for longer periods, which is reflected in their Olympic and Paralympic results.

"With the experience gained, especially over the past two years, Ireland now needs to step up to the next level in how it invests, supports and prepares for competition at the highest international level", said Dan Flinter, Chairman of the Review Steering Committee.

The report recommends that a target driven approach is now required with more demanding criteria and enhanced tracking applied to the support systems. The time is now appropriate for an Institute of Sport structure to be put in place with particular emphasis on strength & conditioning, medical and physiotherapy and lifestyle management for elite athletes, the report concludes.

The Athens Review sets targets for repeatable and consistent success at Olympic and Paralympic level. Ireland should target between 6 and 9 finalists at Olympic level and between 12 and 15 finalists at Paralympic level.

In order to achieve sustainable success talented junior athletes must be the focus of consistent investment and support. These athletes should be in sports with a track record of success, strong sports structures and quality management support systems.

The Review's assessment of the Paralympic performance is positive, with the Irish team succeeding in an increasingly competitive environment. Despite some outstanding individual efforts and significant improvements in planning, the targets for Olympic performance were generally over-ambitious and lacked focus on athletes likely to achieve success.

The Review recognises that the systems put in place following the Sydney Review have brought about substantial improvements in the working relationship between the key agencies to the benefit of the athletes. The report recommends that those systems should continue to operate for the Beijing Games.

Note to Editors

In July 2004 the Irish Sports Council commissioned Wharton Consulting to undertake an objective assessment of the preparation and performance of Irish teams at the Athens 2004 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The terms of reference, to be overseen by a Steering Group chaired by Dan Flinter, were to assess every aspect of the preparation for Athens, including the implementation of the 29 recommendations including in the Sydney Review. Crucially. The final report, published today March 2, makes recommendations for the Beijing cycle.

Members of the Steering Group

  • Dan Flinter (Chair)
  • Maurice Ahern - ISC
  • John Treacy - ISC
  • Tom Rafter - OCI
  • Dermot Sherlock - OCI
  • Tony Guest - PCI
  • Con Haugh - DAST
  • Michael Carruth - former athlete
  • Austin Mallon - ISC (Secretary)
  • Kathryn Gallagher - ISC (Secretary)

Issued on behalf if the Review Steering Group

For further information contact

Paul McDermott Irish Sports Council 087-6486295