HORSE Sport Ireland has been allocated €3.1 million in high performance funding for the Paris Olympic Games cycle (2021-2024).

The announcement was made this week as part of Sport Ireland’s €14.2 million funding package. This will see an additional €19.8 million invested in National Governing Body (NGB) high performance programmes across 2023 and 2024, on top of the €9.9 million high performance programme funding committed in 2022.

HSI’s allocation is broken down by €690,000 in 2021, €803,333 in 2022 and 2023, and €803,334 in 2024. The funding is an increase of €660,000 from the original €2.44 million it received for the Tokyo Olympic Games cycle (2017-2020), which was then boosted with Special Project Funding of €665,000 (2018-2021).

From 21 NGBs, HSI is the sixth-highest funded on the list. Rowing Ireland top the list with a package of €3.9 million.

Tokyo review

Sport Ireland has also published its review of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The Tokyo Games review provides an independent, objective analysis of the Olympic and Paralympic Games for Team Ireland.

Eighteen NGBs were involved in the Tokyo Olympic Games review and seven NGBs involved in the Tokyo Paralympic Games review. Some 426 survey responses were received and 133 interviews conducted.

The analysis of the equestrian review read: “Limited competition hindered preparation, but high performance structures were in relatively good shape going into the Games. [The teams] Did not meet expectations across the disciplines due to a mix of riders and horses not performing on the day and bad luck. Attracting and retaining world-class horses has been difficult for the programme.”

Four recommendations were listed. They were to develop solutions that attract top-quality horses to the programme; prioritise competition for riders; embed the Sport Ireland Institute into the programmes; strengthen operational capacity and support.

Tension in para dressage team

The para dressage outcome was summed up to say that the performance levels were below pre-Games expectations – which was for one podium and three top eight performances; however it stated optimism for Paris.

The analysis read: “Funding was limited and athletes had to cover training and competition costs from their own resources. [A] Lack of operational plan in lead up to the Games caused issues in preparation. [The] Selection process caused some stress and contention for athletes and [there was a] lack of clarity on availability of support services for athletes; some tensions were experienced within the team during the Games.”

There were five recommendations made. They are to put in place a robust athlete agreement setting out clearly the behaviours and standards of a high performance culture; increase visibility of budget to assist medium and long-term planning; consider closer relationship between Olympic and Paralympic programmes to ensure shared learnings; set strategic goals for programme and plan accordingly; ensure greater collaboration between the athletes’ personal trainers and the Performance Director.