The Olympic Federation of Ireland Athletes’ Commission has officially launched a new strategy that is focused on four key pillars of Athlete Welfare, Athlete Voice, Athlete Impact, and Athlete Spirit.

The launch also marked the announcement of a new €65,000 Make a Difference fund for athletes and coaches. Today’s launch took place at the Sport Ireland Campus at a social event for athletes centered around the theme ‘Enjoying the Journey.’

A Mentorship Programme, driven by Committee member Annalise Murphy will see seasoned Olympians sharing their experiences with younger athletes.

The Athletes’ Commission also outlined areas of advocacy that they will be focusing on, including the establishment of a task force to explore ways of ensuring that Olympic athletes can be better recognised in the tax system.

Other areas of concern or interest to athletes can and will also be raised in a variety of different settings. Chair Shane O’Connor revealed that he and Natalya Coyle had spoken to the European Commission on anti-doping policy at an event hosted by Sport Ireland.

Paddy Barnes, who is also on the Commission, revealed that he will shortly be writing a letter to the International Olympic Committee expressing the views of boxers in Ireland and around the world on the prospect of the sport being excluded from the LA Games of 2028.

Make a Difference

Invitations will be extended to athletes and coaches to apply for funding from the new Make a Difference Fund. Among the potential areas where support might be given could be additional coaching, nutrition or other advice outside of an athlete’s high performance circle.

This fund incorporates proceeds that were raised at the recent Make a Difference golf fundraiser at the K Club.

Today’s event saw young athletes and experienced Olympians and Olympic medallists come together from over fifteen sports to hear from some of Ireland’s top athletes and to share their own stories and experiences.

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Bronze Medallist in Boxing, Aidan Walsh, provided a powerful account of his journey to Olympic success, before two separate panel discussions involving Athletes’ Commission members Annalise Murphy, Paddy Barnes, Sanita Puspure and Brendan Boyce offered tips and advice on the back of their own Olympic experiences.

Team Ireland Chef de Mission for Paris, Gavin Noble, also provided an update, at the event facilitated by former Athletes’ Commission member David Gillick.


“It’s really encouraging to see so many people here today, representing a wide range of sports, especially so many younger athletes, both in person and online,” said Chair of the Athletes’ Commission, Shane O’Connor, who competed for Team Ireland in Alpine Skiing at the Vancouver 2010 Games.

“The Athletes’ Commission has a real opportunity to drive a positive agenda and one that is relevant to athletes. Today’s event is focusing on the importance of enjoying the journey in sport, and this is a message that we, as the Team Ireland Athletes’ Commission, want to make sure is at the heart of each athlete’s own personal journey. We want to support our athletes by ensuring that their voice is represented at decision-making tables in items relating to the athlete journey.”

“We are really pleased to launch today’s strategy, especially at this event which has brought together athletes with a range of experience, including a huge number of promising athletes who are just starting their journey,” added Vice-Chair Natalya Coyle, who competed at three Olympic Games in Modern Pentathlon.

“A lot of time was spent developing this strategy that we feel represents athletes in the current Irish high-performance system. We are also pleased to launch it, knowing that work has already begun in many key areas within the strategy. The plan builds on the strong foundations that were put in place by the last Athletes’ Commission. We are looking forward to progressing and to making a difference for the athletes in the coming cycle.”