Ireland’s Shane Ryan And Darragh Greene Pre-Selected For Tokyo

Shane Ryan: Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

European 50m backstroke bronze medallist Shane Ryan and triple national record holder Darragh Greene have been pre-selected by Swim Ireland for Tokyo after the Olympic nomination policy was revised in light of the pandemic.

The pair will now be nominated to the Olympic Federation of Ireland who will confirm the selections after they achieved the FINA ‘A’ time which serves as the Olympic qualification standard.

Ryan went 53.73 in the 100 back at the 2019 Irish Open, a national record and within the time required to book a spot – confirmation pending – for his second Olympics after competing at Rio 2016 where he reached the semis of the 100 back.

Greene – who holds the Irish breaststroke records from 50-200m – went 59.82 over 100br at the 2019 worlds in Gwangju, months after stopping the clock at 2:10.05 in the 200 at the Irish Open with both times inside the cut.

The pair responded by posting to social media:

The pair’s pre-selection is the first of a four-stage qualification policy with further selections to be made following the Irish Open Championships to be held from 20-24 April in Dublin and an additional nominated meet in June with relay nominations following the European Championships in Budapest in May.

The news comes a day after the McCullagh International, which was scheduled for late February 2021 in Bangor, Northern Ireland, was postponed with Swim Ireland looking to stage it in late 2021 after the Olympics.

A statement from Swim Ireland read:

“Swim Ireland starts 2021 excited about the upcoming 2020 Olympic Games, now scheduled for 23rd July to 8th August, and after a year of COVID-19 related upheaval, we have updated our Olympic Nomination Policy to give additional opportunity to athletes to meet the qualification standards.

“The changes to the policy provide for swimmers who have already achieved an Olympic Qualification Time to be pre-selected and for those that do not meet the qualification time at the Irish Olympic Trials in April (20th – 24th) to qualify at a nominated meet in June.

“Both the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and FINA (the world governing body for swimming) require athletes to achieve an Olympic Qualification Time (FINA ‘A’ time) within a designated period from March 2019 and from pre-named ratified competitions for them to be assured of an entry into the respective individual event at the Games.

sw ireland

Photo Courtesy: Swim Ireland

“Darragh Greene and Shane Ryan can now both be considered for the Games as the two Irish swimmers to post performances under the FINA ‘A’ time in their respective events in the designated period thus far. Greene achieved times in the 100m Breaststroke at the FINA World Championships in 2019 and 200m Breaststroke at the Irish Open Championships in 2019, whilst Rio 2016 Olympian Ryan also attained a time at the 2019 Open in the 100m Backstroke.

“The COVID pandemic has clearly affected all sections of society and despite the support and understanding Swim Ireland have received from Sport Ireland and Sport Northern Ireland during these times, we continue to face some significant challenges in the preparation of our athletes.

“Revisions to swimming training environments, the ongoing challenge facing domestic and international competition between now and the Games as well as athlete/staff welfare and wellbeing are very much at the heart of the changes, felt to be both appropriate and necessary.

“National performance director Jon Rudd said:

‘This revised policy is a COVID-specific move away from that which has become our regular and recognised selection process for a summer senior international benchmark meet because of these exceptional times and aims to provide athletes with the fairest possible opportunity to be nominated to the OFI for the Tokyo Olympic Games.

‘We spent a great deal of time looking at that which we truly believe in for international success (individual event selection via a sole Trials) to that which has become necessary because of the unprecedented circumstances that we have faced over the last 10 months – circumstances that are still with us and will remain so for some months to come.

‘We believe that the breadth and balance that the four stage Nomination Process gives us satisfies our performance need, whilst being underpinned by a process which is ethically sound in terms of athlete opportunity’.

18/11/2017 Swim Ireland. NAC, Dublin. Picture by Diarmuid Greene

Ben Higson: Photo Courtesy: Diarmuid Greene, for Swim Ireland

National senior team head coach Ben Higson said:

‘With the uncertainty that has surrounded and continues to surround us regarding COVID-19, it has been it has been imperative that we respond and not react to the situation we find ourselves in. The new four stage approach provides fairness in opportunity and will hopefully ensure as many of our athletes as possible can be on the plane to Tokyo. Athletes and coaches have worked tirelessly throughout the past four years and deserve to have the best possible opportunity to qualify.’

 “The next opportunity for athletes to qualify for the Games will be the Irish Open Championships (Olympic and Paralympic Trials).”

Stage 1 – Swim Ireland will nominate to the OFI those athletes who have already achieved a FINA ‘A’ qualification standard in an individual event in the designated period approved by FINA up to the end of 2020.

Stage 2 – Swim Ireland will nominate additional athletes to the team from those who achieve a FINA ‘A’ time in individual events at the 2021 Irish Open Championships (20th – 24th April 2021) in Dublin (subject to the places remaining in individual events following Stage 1)

Stage 3 – Swim Ireland will attempt to qualify one or more relays to the Games via the 2021 LEN European Championships (50m) in Budapest (17-23 May 2021) and select such relay members to the team following this competition.

Stage 4 – Swim Ireland will nominate additional athletes to the team from those who achieve a FINA ‘A’ time in individual events at one additional nominated meet in June 2021 (subject to the places remaining in individual events following Stages 1 & 2)

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