Colin Griffin’s Olympic preparations have been dealt a major blow after the Ballinamore Athletic Club race-walker was omitted from the Irish Sports Council’s High Performance grants package which was announced in Dublin on Tuesday.
Griffin, who had represented Ireland in the Beijing Olympics, the European Championships and the last two World Championships, doesn’t not yet have the qualifying time for the London Olympics and appears to have paid a heavy price for being disqualified in his last 50Km race last September when he was comfortably on track to beat the standard.
Neither was Mohill AC’s Laura Reynolds, who won the Irish Senior Indoor 5Km title last Saturday in Belfast, included on the list of grants despite achieving an Olympic B standard last year.
Reacting to the news on Twittter, Colin tweeted “Heavy price paid for getting DQ’d at 48km in 50km race last Sept, but will keep head down and get performance next month,” referring to his disqualification in both of his last two 50Km outings, in Daegu at the World Champoinships and his race in Germany when he was disqualified with less than 2Km to go.
Ironically the news that the Ballinamore walker had lost his funding comes after Colin received a sponsorship boost in the last week when leading sports nutritional supplement company ROS Nutrition have agreed to sponsor him for the next two years.
The loss of funding contrasts sharply with the decision of the Sports Council to retain 400m runner David Gillick on the “podium” level of grant of 40,000 euro despite the fact that he suffered an injury ravaged season and has not yet achieved the qualifying standard for London.
Speaking at the launch of the High Performance funding programme, Irish Sports Council Director of High Performance Finbarr Kirwan said “There is a clear an unambiguous message of performance. It’s crude. It’s a black and white business. Changes are coming, things are tight and we will have to make strategic cuts in the next two years.”
The Sports Council also revealed that due to consecutive budget cuts of five percent annually, they were reviewing all funding schemes, for individuals and organisations. Ireland operates a three-tier system of individual grants: €40,000 a year for proven medallists (called ‘podium class’), €20,000 for ‘world class’ (usually top 8-10) and ?12,000 for ‘international class’.
Of the 118 athletes who received grants across 23 sports yesterday, just 27 of them got the maximum €40,000. Yet it is the next two levels which are expected to be most affected when the bar is raised next year.