As the Olympic Games get in gear, Irish Americans with loyalties on both sides of the Atlantic will find themselves with an abundance of stellar athletes to root for.
With 525 athletes, Team U.S.A. is a force to be reckoned with. The Irish-American competitors receiving the most media buzz include 16-year-old gymnast McKayla Maroney; distance runner Shalane Flanagan, who set a new event record at the marathon trials; middle-distance runners Julie Culley and Kim Conley; swimmers Conor Dwyer, Tyler McGill, Claire Donahue and multi-medal-winner Natalie Coughlin; soccer forward Kelley O’Hara and cyclists Timmy Duggan and Taylor Phinney, to name just a few.
Though the Irish team is small, with 63 members, it is mighty. Great things are expected from boxer Katie Taylor, 26, who won Ireland’s first officially sanctioned female boxing match in 2001, and has since won the European championships five times and the world championships three consecutive times. Swimmer Grainne Murphy, who, at 19, is one of the youngest team members, shows significant promise in the 800m freestyle. In track-and-field, the four women of the relay team will be the ones to watch, after qualifying with the twelfth fastest time on average. Paul Hession, the fastest sprinter in Irish history, who holds the country’s records from 60m to 200m is on the path to secure a final place in the 200m, which he narrowly missed in Beijing in 2008. There is also much excitement over the Irish sailing team, which recently ranked 5th in the world at the ISAF World Cup regatta in June. We wish all of the competitors the best of luck!