The Olympic Federation of Ireland has this morning revealed €200,000 worth of funding for eight athletes hoping to compete for Ireland at the next Winter Olympic Games which takes place in Italy in 2026.

The recipients of the Milano Cortina 2026 Olympic Scholarships represent seven different disciplines, and include a mix of experienced Olympians and up-and-coming winter athletes.

The funding for the grants is provided through the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Olympic Solidarity programme, and the scholarships are designed to offer financial support to athletes who are targeting qualification for the 2026 Winter Olympic Games.

The grants can be used by athletes to contribute to a wide range of items linked to performance, such as travel, competition, accommodation, coaching and medical insurance.

They run from November 2023 to February 2026, and the total amount is $209,888 (USD) which is divided equally among the scholarship recipients and paid in instalments three times a year.

The Milano Cortina 2026 Scholarship recipients are:

Brendan Doyle, Skeleton (Dublin)

Brendan Doyle is a Dublin athlete who competes in the Skeleton, and is targeting Milano Cortina 2026. He narrowly missed out on qualification for both the Beijing 2022 Games, and the Pyeongchang 2018 Games. The Skeleton is a winter sliding sport in which the athlete rides a small sled down a frozen track, while lying face-down and head-first.

Claire Dooley, Dual Moguls (Brisbane/Canada/Kilkenny)

Brought up in Brisbane, Claire Dooley trains in Whistler. She competes in the Moguls, a freestyle type of skiing that involves skiing on a steep, heavily moguled course, combining speed and technical ability. In Dual Moguls athletes compete side by side.

Cormac Comerford, Alpine Skiing (Dublin)

Cormac Comerford started his skiing journey at the Ski Club in Kilternan as an eight year old, and since then has risen through the ranks to compete with the best on the international circuit. Cormac narrowly missed qualification for both Pyeongchang 2018 and Beijing 2022, and has been producing some of his best results over the past number of months.

Elle Murphy, Alpine Skiing (Colorado/Dublin)

Elle Murphy previously competed at the European Youth Olympic Festival in Sarajevo in 2019, and also spent time training for the Paralympic Games in Beijing 2022 as a guide for a visually impaired skier. From Colorado, her Irish connection is through her Dublin born father.

Elsa Desmond, Luge (England/Cavan/Cork)

Elsa Desmond became the first Irish athlete to compete in Luge at the Olympics, qualifying for the Beijing 2022 Games. The English born doctor has roots in both Cavan and Cork, and is passionate about developing the Luge scene in Ireland. The Luge is a sliding event which involves the athlete lying on a sled face up and feet first, travelling at high speeds. It is the fastest sport in the Winter Olympics.

Liam O’Brien, Speed Skating (South Korea/Sydney/Cavan)

Born in Sydney, Liam O’Brien now lives and trains in South Korea, and his mother is from Kingscourt, Cavan. Liam missed out on Beijing 2022 by one place, and is targeting Milano Cortina.

Seamus O’Connor, Snowboard Freestyle (California/Drogheda)

Should Seamus O’Connor qualify for Milano Cortina 2026 he will become the first athlete to compete at four Winter Olympic Games for Ireland. The Californian born snowboarder has roots in Drogheda, and competes in the freestyle events – in Beijing he competed in the half-pipe, an event that involves competing on a half tube of snow, with athletes performing tricks that are assessed based on difficulty, execution, height and style.

Thomas Maloney Westgaard, Cross Country Skiing (Norway/Galway)

Thomas Maloney Westgaard is one of Ireland’s top winter athletes, competing in the cross-country event. The two-time Olympian finished top 15 in the 50km event at the Beijing Olympics, the top sixth nation. Born in Norway, Thomas’s mother is from Galway.

“These grants are key in helping our winter athletes prepare for the Games, especially as they approach the qualification period for the Winter Olympics in Milano Cortina which begins next year.” said Team Ireland Chef de Mission for the Games, Nancy Chillingworth.