With the loss of the running track and the new swimming pool still unfinished, it seems that UCD’s hopes for a pre-Olympic training campus could be slipping away. UCD announced its bid for the training campus in April 2010, with Dr. Martin Butler noting in an interview with the University Observer that “teams will come here sometimes three months in advance”.
However, the loss of the 400 metre, eight lane running track and the incompletion of the 50 metre FINA standard Olympic swimming pool means that the University’s attempts to attract Olympic teams to the campus may have been in vain.
Speaking to the College Tribune, current Sports Officer and newly elected Campaigns and Communications Sabbatical Officer Paddy Guiney stated that “UCD has a range of world class facilities that could play host to any potential Olympic team”, listing the facilities that UCD could offer Olympic teams should they choose to use Belfield as their pre-Olympic training campus, such as “the many grass pitches located around the Sports center, both normal and artificial all weather pitches, squash courts, hockey pitches which hosted the recent hockey internationals to qualify for the Olympics and The Rifle Range found in the Boiler House which is considered to be one of the top facilities in Ireland”.
When asked about the state of the new Sports Centre, Guiney confirmed that the centre will be “open to the public in June” and that “a focus group along with UCD officials and members of the UCD athletics club is still on-going about the proposal of a new track”.
However, even if the Sports Centre opens in June, it is unlikely that Olympic teams will see this as being sufficient time to prepare for the Olympics which start the following month.
However Emmy Coffey, a member of the UCD athletics club, had a less positive outlook on the situation: “There seems to be no progress [on the new track] and we’re having to train in different locations”. Coffey also complained that there seems to be little progress on “the promised temporary throws area that was due to be implemented near Richview/High Performance Centre late January”, another facility that UCD has lost since announcing their intention to attract Olympians to the campus.
Neither the Athletics club nor Paddy Guiney could reveal whether any Olympic teams have confirmed that they would use the campus for pre-Olympic training, or even shown any recent interest in the proposal. At the time of going to print UCD Sports had not commented on the issue.
In terms of UCD students set for London, Athletics Club captain Richard Owens discussed how some current and past UCD students were looking good for London: “Ciara Mageean, first year Physiotherapy student, should be the youngest member of the team and already has the 1500 meter B standard. Derval O’Rourke, will be there 100% in the 100 meter hurdles, Deirdre Ryan, will be there in the high jump, and Steven Colvert looks set to be going in the 200 meters; he is just off the time and is currently in LA training with Paul Hession and David Gillick.”