Olympic athletes who represented Ireland across the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games and the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games were honoured at a special event held by the Olympic Federation of Ireland at the Mansion House, Dublin on 26th March.
The event, which was held in the aftermath of a hugely successful year for Team Ireland, marked the official wrap of the 2020 Summer and 2022 Winter Games cycles, and saw Olympic athletes awarded across different categories for their contribution to the team. This evening’s event also acknowledged and recognised the contribution of the Team Ireland athletes at both Games overall, as they represented their country with pride and in doing so, inspired a nation.
The first award of the night was the Allianz Rising Star award, awarded to young swimmer, Mona McSharry, who made a big splash at the Summer Games in Tokyo last year. McSharry made history in Tokyo, becoming the first Irish swimmer in 25 years to compete in an Olympic final, touching home in a time of 1:06.94 in the final to finish 8th overall. The award was decided by nominations from sports from across the Olympic Federation members, which were then passed on to an independent committee vote for the final decision.
The second award of the night was the Deloitte Special Recognition Award for the Summer Games, with Dr James O’Donovan – Team Ireland Chief Medical Officer at the Tokyo Games – picking up the award, following an extremely difficult and challenging Games, that saw him lead Team Ireland athletes and staff through the Games safely and without incident. The Deloitte Special Recognition award for the Winter Games meanwhile was awarded to Cross Country Skier, Thomas Maloney Westgaard for his performances in Beijing in February, which saw him leave a major impact on the sport, finishing sixth nation in a hugely competitive event. This was off the back of a challenging start to the Games for Westgaard, which saw him in isolation until the day before competition due to Covid-19.
The Permanent TSB Spirit of the Winter Olympics Award was a joint award given to Seamus O’Connor (Snowboarding) and Brendan Newby (Freestyle Skiing) as they inspired the youth of Ireland to Dare to Believe in themselves, while the Permanent TSB Spirit of the Summer Olympics Writers’ award – which was decided upon by the Irish media who attended the Summer Olympic Games – was awarded to Irish boxer Emmet Brennan for his embodiment of the spirit of the Olympics throughout the Games, inspiring the nation as he went.
The final award of the night was the Indeed Award for Excellence, and saw all Olympic medallists from the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games recognised. This included gold medal winners Kellie Harrington (Boxing) and the rowing pair of Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy, as well as bronze medal winners, Aidan Walsh (Boxing) and the rowing four of Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe, Fiona Murtagh and Emily Hegarty.
Speaking about the awards, CEO of the Olympic Federation of Ireland, Peter Sherrard stated: “Through the Tokyo and Beijing Games, the Team Ireland athletes have been dedicated, committed and inspiring. We are very proud of their achievements. It was a pleasure to have Minister Catherine Martin in attendance, as well as Sport Ireland and the newly appointed Athletes’ Commission as we looked back on the Games just gone and prepare for Paris, and Milan Cortina. We wish to extend our congratulations to our award recipients this evening and thank our sponsors and partners for helping to make the evening so special for our athletes.”