Derval O’Rourke shares his predictions for Team Ireland at this year’s Olympics


After being postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic last summer, this week will finally see the start of the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.

Sports fans have been waiting for this iconic global event for over a year now, as anyone can expect to see the world’s best athletes bring back medals to their home countries for two weeks.

This year, Team Ireland sent their biggest team to the Olympic Village in Tokyo. A total of 116 athletes will proudly represent our country in a range of sports, from hockey to rugby, track and field to boxing and water sports.

Ireland’s fittest family coach and former Olympian Derval O’Rourke will bring his expertise to RTÉ’s extensive coverage of the Olympics, and she believes the Ireland team will do well at the Games overall.

Derval O’Rourke. Photo Joleen Cronin

Sharing his predictions with RSVP Live, Derval said, “Medals are really hard to come by and that’s the first thing I always say. It’s really impressive for anyone who managed to get on the plane to Tokyo because it’s so difficult to do. Most people underestimate how difficult it is to qualify.

“If I had to bet my house on anyone to get a medal, it would be Thomas Barr in the 400 hurdles. He finished fourth in Rio De Janeiro, which was both heartbreaking and ridiculously impressive. He enters into it in the form of his life.

You can keep an eye on how Thomas is doing when athletics kicks off on day 7 of the tournament, Friday July 30.

Derval has competed in three Olympics herself and is a world champion in the hurdles sprint, so she knows only too well the pressure and nerves that Irish team athletes can be feeling right now.

Offering words of wisdom and encouragement, Derval’s advice is clear: “You have nothing to lose, at all, and focus on yourself. Walk out of your event knowing there is nothing else you can give it. If people can do that, they win.

Meanwhile, RTÉ expert Jacqui Hurley believes the Irish team could win five medals this year.

She told RSVP Live that viewers should continue on our boxers and rowers, as we also have a strong representation in team sports.

Jacqui said: “We have a huge chance in rowing, we could win three medals there but at least two. We will get at least one medal in boxing, we send a very strong team and they all have a huge chance of winning. Kellie Harrington is the number one seed in the weight class. Rhys McClenaghan is going to Tokyo to win gold and it would change his life.

“Natalya Coyle has a very good outdoor chance in the modern pentathlon and I would love to see her on the podium. If Anneliese Murphy gets the wind conditions right, she could win another medal in sailing. Jack Woolley is another hope in taekwondo.

“Team sports are really interesting. If the rugby sevens guys get out of their pool and things go well for our women’s hockey team, they could get a medal, and so could the show jumping team.

Live Olympics action kicks off on RTÉ2, RTÉ Radio 1 and RTÉ Player from 1:30 a.m. on July 23 as Irish rowers take to the water with the Olympics Opening Ceremony starting at 11:30 a.m.


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