Last week it was announced that the Irish Sports Council’s funding of amateur athletes set to compete at the Summer Olympic Games in 2016 was to increase by €1 million. This is the first increase in six years and brings the overall support of amateur athletes competing at Rio 2016 to €19.6 million.
The €19.6 million is split approximately 40:60 with national governing bodies receiving the bulk of the funding, with the remainder going directly to the Olympic effort. Boxing, received a significant boost in funding (up 65%) thanks to the success of our boxers at London 2012. It appears we are adopting a Ricardian model of comparative advantage.
Speaking about the announcement Minister for Sport Michael Ring said that Ireland and Irish athletes have performed very well over the years, and as a ‘small’ country, we have done significantly better than many people would have expected. This got me thinking. We always like to think we are small and overachieving (most countries do!) but is this perception correct?
Twenty-seven Summer Olympic Games have been held in the modern era. Only France, Great Britain, Greece and Switzerland have appeared at every Games. Ireland has appeared at 20 since the foundation of the Free State in 1922, with the country only absent from the 1936 Games in Berlin . Since our debut at Paris in 1924 Ireland has won 28 medals (nine gold, eight silver and eleven bronze). Success has been had in Boxing (16), Athletics (6), Swimming (4), Sailing (1) and Equestrian (1). To see how prolific we are, one need to compare our medal tally to that of all other countries, since the first modern Summer Olympic Games held in Athens in 1896. The table below lists where we are ranked.