The countdown is officially on for the most anticipated sporting event of the year. The Tokyo 2021 Olympic games begin on Friday the 23rd of July and as of this week, Team Ireland have jetted off to Japan for the last of their preparations before the beginning of the games.
Over a hundred of the best athletes Ireland has to offer have qualified to compete across 19 sports including equestrian, hockey, golf, then modern pentathlon and judo. The Olympics is always an exciting event and this year is no different. Ireland is to be represented by a stellar team and much to the delight to of young aspiring sportswomen across the country, this year Team Ireland is to be made up of 50% women.
Women Making History
Across 14 of the 19 sports in which Team Ireland will compete at the games you will see over 50 female athletes donning the green jersey with many of them making history as they do.
Tanya Watson, who will compete in the ten metre platform diving is the first Irish platform diver to ever qualify for the Olympics. Watson is also the first women to represent Ireland in diving at games and did I mention she’s only 19 years old? Tanya qualified following her 16th place finish in the preliminary dives at the FINA Diving World Championships in May and will begin her Olympic competition on Tuesday July 27th.
Young Watson won’t be the only Irish sports star making history in Tokyo, following a nail biting qualification match against Canada in late 2019 which ended in a dramatic round of penalty shuttles, the Irish Senior Women’s Hockey team are off to Tokyo. The team of 16 players and three reserves will be the first female team to represent Ireland in a traditional team sport.
Although all members of the team are new to the Olympic set up, the squad announced on June 21st included many of the 2018 World Cup Silver Medal team such as captain Katie Mullen and goalkeeper Ayeshia MacFerran. The squad includes several fresh faces including Sarah McAuley, Michelle Carey and Zara Malseed who earned their first caps for Ireland at last month’s European Championships and are some of the youngest Irish athletes at this year’s games.
The team coached by New Zealander Sean Dancer are hoping to make waves much like they did at the World Cup in 2018 and make their stamp on Irish and Olympic hockey history.
Can’t See It, Can’t Be It
Young girls across Ireland who one day dream of becoming Olympians themselves will be able to see themselves reflected on their screens this summer as Team Ireland prove that in sport being a women is not a down fall, but the biggest asset available to you.
If you cannot see that women can compete at the highest level and win, just like Irish sailor Annalise Murphy who took home silver in the 2016 Rio games and is hoping to add to her collection this summer in Tokyo, you cannot become a woman competing in sport.
Over the last number of years we have seen a huge push for representation of women in Irish sport through the 20X20 Campaign which worked to achieve a 20% increase in participation, media coverage and attendance in women’s sport by the end of 2020 with huge success, as 68% of adults across Ireland now supported women’s sport because of the 20X20 campaign.
The team set to represent Ireland at this year’s Olympics have proven that when time, funding and faith is put into female athletes not only can they qualify for a competition as big as the Olympic Games, they can be in with a real chance of bringing home some medals.
Young girls across Ireland will be able to watch their country compete in sports that they take part in such as rowing, equestrian, cycling, swimming and so many more. It is my hope that sporting societies and bodies can see the future of Irish women’s sport in this year’s Olympic team and that the next generation of Irish sportswomen can see that they too can one day compete for their country at the highest level.
We cannot wait to cheer on our fellow Irish women (and men) at the Tokyo Olympics.