Rio hopefuls confirmed by Paralympics Ireland

Jason Smyth
Jason Smyth

Paralympics Ireland has announced its 2014 Athlete Panel. The panel of 45 athletes across 11 sports is comprised of those considered most likely to qualify for the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games.

The panel will come together for the first time as a group in March when they meet for the initial multi-sport training camp of the Rio cycle, in Limerick.

Commenting on the announcement of the 2014 Panel, Paralympics Ireland Performance Manager Dave Malone said: “Being named on the panel is always a notable step on the journey to secure Paralympic Games qualification for an athlete.

“We are looking forward to the first engagement as one entity in Limerick in what is set to be another busy year with a European or World Championships as the focus for the majority of athletes.”

The panel boasts several London 2012 medallists including athletes Jason Smyth and Michael McKillop, swimmer Darragh McDonald and handcyclist Mark Rohan.

Also notable is the welcome return of the seven-a-side CP football squad who agonisingly missed out on London qualification. Promisingly, there is one athlete each from the two sports set to make their Paralympic debut in Rio; Canoeing and Triathlon, on the panel.

Alongside those named an additional 20 athletes from 11 sports will attend the Limerick camp under Paralympics Ireland’s new Fast Track Programme.

This programme provides ring fenced supports for promising athletes that have emerged from the post London 2012 talent search.

With the 2016 Paralympic Games Qualification guide recently published by the International Paralympic Committee targets can clearly be set ahead of the qualification period opening early next year.

2014 will provide many competition opportunities with European Championships in Swimming, Athletics and Football, and World Track and Road Championships in Paracycling, amongst others.