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McAnuff and O’Brien Set Personal Bests At Beijing Olympic Test Event

Team Ireland short track speed skaters Sean McAnuff (24) and Liam O’Brien (22) have concluded competing at the opening ISU World Cup in China, the first step on the road to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games, with each athlete setting a new personal best at the event on what will become Olympic ice in February next year.

On the opening day of competiton, McAnuff and O’Brien lined up for the opening rounds of the 1500m and 500m distances. In Heat 2 of the 1500m heats, O’Brien initially finished fourth in a time of 2:24.378. However, following a review by race officials, an American skater who finished ahead O’Brien was penalised and the Irishman was advanced to the quarterfinals. McAnuff drew to race in Heat 5 and this turned out to be the swiftest of the fourteen 1500m heats in Beijing. He finished fourth in a time of 2:17.035 smashing his own personal best by three seconds even though it was not enough to advance any further. It did garner him an overall placement for the distance of 43rd and two World Cup ranking points. O’Brien came back for the 1500m quarterfinals and raced in Heat 7 coming in fifth with a time of 2:22.455 meaning he would race again in the ranking finals on Day Three of the event.

In the afternoon of Day One, McAnuff and O’Brien were back on the ice for the 500m preliminaries. McAnuff raced in Heat 4 and finished fifth in a time of 43.416 giving him an overall distance classification of 71st. O’Brien came third in Heat 8 with a new personal best time of 42.608 which unfortunately was not sufficient to move on to subsequent rounds and he finished overall in 47th place.

There was a lighter schedule on Day Two of the World Cup with just the 1000m preliminaries to be contested. O’Brien was first up in Heat 4 where he finished fifth in a time of 1:27.858 which was very close to his personal best. He ended up classified in 68th place for the distance. McAnuff took third in Heat 15 with a time of 1:28.911 just missing out on progressing as a fastest third place finisher. He ranked 47th overall for the distance and completed his racing for this World Cup.

On Day Three, O’Brien started in Heat 2 of the 1500m ranking finals. He was in the mix for most of the race, but he was impeded by a Croatian skater with just over three laps to go and crashed into the padding. He got back up and finished in a time of 2:55.839 for sixth place in the heat. He did earn twelve world ranking points for 33rd place in the standings.

McAnuff and O’Brien travel next to Nagoya, Japan to compete in the second ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating of the season this coming weekend (28-31 October).

“There are lots of positives to take into next week in Nagoya,” O’Brien said. “Hopefully, I can build on the results this week and work towards qualifying Ireland a spot at the upcoming Olympics.”

“I am very excited to see that my skating has improved over the last year of training,” McAnuff said. “This World Cup was my first time racing in 20 months, but I feel it gave me the chance to get back into a racing mentality, practice my strategies, and continue to learn for the next World Cup in Japan.”

McAnuff and O’Brien Embark On Quest For Beijing Spots

Short track speed skaters Sean McAnuff (24) and Liam O’Brien (22) begin their journey this weekend to secure quota places for Ireland at the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games at the first of four ISU World Cup events.

McAnuff and O’Brien will be racing from tomorrow (21 October) at the Olympic test event inside the Capital Indoor Stadium in Beijing, China. First up will be the 1500m heats and quarterfinals which will be followed later on in the day by 500m preliminaries and heats. On Friday (22 October) the 1000m preliminaries and heats will take place. Subsequent rounds and finals will be held on Saturday (23 October) and Sunday (24 October).

For McAnuff and O’Brien, the goal will be to progress as far as they can in each distance in order to accumulate ranking points at each World Cup event. There are 32 Olympic quota places in the 500m and 1000m distances and 36 in the 1500m on offer. Full rules of the Olympic qualifying procedures can be viewed here.

“My goals for the upcoming World Cups are to give my best effort at everything I do,” McAnuff said. “I want to go through these Olympic qualfiers with a positive attitude and outlook regardless of my results. I hope to meet new athletes and connect with old friends and encourage them in their racing and training efforts. I would love to see us athletes enjoy and take part in our speed skating community in a fun and encouraging way that supports each of us and all the hard work we have put in leading up to this point.”

“I am looking forward to competing at the first World Cup here in Beijing tomorrow,” O’Brien said. “I hope to be able to skate strong and work towards qualifying Ireland a spot at the upcoming Winter Olympics.”

The ISU World Cup Short Track Speed Skating will be streamed live on the ISU Skating YouTube channel. The event can also be followed on social media via the #ShortTrackSkating hashtag.

Schedule (Irish time)

21 October

03:40 1500m Heats
06:16 1500m Quarterfinals
08:44 500m Preliminaries
10:11 500m Heats

22 October

04:47 1000m Preliminaries
06:38 1000m Heats

23 October

03:16 1500m Ranking Finals
04:17 500m Ranking Finals
07:20 1500m Semifinals
08:13 1500m Finals
09:02 500m Quarterfinals
09:40 500m Semifinals
10:17 500m Finals

24 October

01:57 1000m Ranking Finals
06:19 1000m Quarterfinals
07:00 1000m Semifinals
07:40 1000m Finals

Six Speed Skaters Named To 2021/2022 ISAI National Team

The Board of Directors of the Ice Skating Association of Ireland (ISAI) have selected six speed skaters to the ISAI National Team for the 2021/2022 season.

The following ISAI members have been chosen to represent Ireland on the international stage at International Skating Union (ISU) events::

Short Track Speed Skating

Ryan McAnuff
Sean McAnuff
Liam O’Brien

Speed Skating

Tara Donoghue
Rory McCarthy
Siún Ní Dhúgáin

 

Ryan McAnuff has been selected to the National Team for the sixth consecutive season. At the 2020 European Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Debrecen, Hungary, he finished in 34th place overall. He is currently studying medicine at the University of Limerick.

“I am very excited to once again be named to the Irish Short Track Speed Skating team,” Ryan said. “I am excited for another season with a growing Irish team where we look to qualify for the 2022 Olympic Games.”

Sean McAnuff joins his brother Ryan on the National Team again for the sixth time in a row. He placed 35th at the 2020 European Short Track Speed Skating Championships. Since December 2020, he has been training in Budapest, Hungary.

“I feel fortunate to be able to prepare for the Olympic year with Team Hungary, one of the best teams in the world, ” Sean said. “This opportunity has encouraged me to really have fun in the preparation process, and work harder than ever so that I can be the most well-rounded athlete possible. My goals are not only to succeed in my performance on the ice, but to see growth in my attitude, my perspectives, and discovery of what my definition of success looks like in my sport. It can be so easy to get caught up in thinking about the Olympic Qualifiers each day, so I am working hard to stay focused on living in the moment, celebrating my daily successes, and taking in the enjoyment of this season of life.”

Liam O’Brien has been selected for the Irish national team for the third time. Earlier this year, he finished 25th at European Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Gdansk, Poland and 29th at the World Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Rotterdam, Netherlands. He currently trains in Seongnam, Republic of Korea.

“I am looking forward to racing again this season,” O’Brien said. “The focus is to be competitive at the World Cups, with the end goal being Beijing at the beginning of 2022.”

Tara Donoghue placed 11th in the Mass Start race at the 2020 World Junior Speed Skating Championships in Tomaszów Mazowiecki, Poland, the best result ever by an Irish ice skater at an ISU Championships. In 2019, she also became the first ice skater to earn a spot for Ireland at the Winter Youth Olympic Games which she was unfortunately unable to use due to age restrictions.

“My goals for the upcoming season are to qualify for the Senior World Cups in the 3000 metres and mass start,” Donoghue said. “From there on the ultimate goal would be qualification for the Beijing 2022 Olympics.”

Rory McCarthy was the first male long track speed skater to be named to the National Team in 2020. Based in the Netherlands, his favourite distance is the 500 metres.

“For the coming season, I hope to enjoy getting back to competition and seeing how far I can push myself,” McCarthy said.

Siún Ní Dhúgáin was also selected to the National Team for the first time in 2020. In July 2019, she participated in the “Road to Ice” training camp at Thialf Academy in Heerenveen, Netherlands.

You can find out more about our national team members here.

O’Brien Receives Beijing 2022 Individual Performance Support Award

Irish short track speed skater Liam O’Brien (22) has been accepted to the Olympic Federation of Ireland (OFI) Beijing 2022 Individual Performance Support programme.

In partnership with the Sport Ireland Institute, the OFI will be providing O’Brien with virtual strength and conditioning assessments, nutritional and psychology consultations in the build-up to next February’s Beijing 2022 Olympic Games.

In March this year, O’Brien finished in 29th place overall at the World Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Rotterdam, Netherlands. This was the highest placement for an Irish skater in the history of the event.

“The OFI and ISAI have been of great support to me in my preparations for the upcoming season,” O’Brien said. “I am delighted to be granted the Beijing 2022 Individual Performance Support Award and this will assist me tremendously for the competition season ahead and Olympic qualifications.”

O’Brien Cracks Top 30 At Short Track Worlds

Irish short track speed skater Liam O’Brien (22) has finished in 29th place overall on his debut at the World Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Dordrecht, The Netherlands (5-7 March).

O’Brien raced six times over the course of the three days of the championships inside the Optisport Sportboulevard Arena where comprehensive testing, hygiene and social distancing protocols were in place in accordance with the Guidelines for ISU Events during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

On Day One, he took part in the qualifying rounds for three distances. He was drawn in Heat 2 of the 1500 metres quarterfinals and came fourth in a time of 2:26.068. The 500 metres heats saw him come fourth in Heat 8 with a time of 43.799 after tripping slightly at the start of the race. His last event of the opening day of competition was the 1000 metres heats where he clocked a new personal best time of 1:28.144 in Heat 5 to finish fifth.

The following day O’Brien was back on the ice for two ranking finals. The first race was the 1500 metres in which he came fourth in a drama-filled Heat 3 with a time of 2:39.298 to finish 25th overall in that distance. He came second in Heat 3 of the 500 metres with a time of 43.245 to place 32nd overall for the distance.

O’Brien wrapped up on the final day with the ranking final for the 1000 metres where he notched up another personal best time of 1:27.564 in Heat 2. He placed 33rd in the distance which gave him an overall championship classification of 29th. This is the highest placement ever by an Irish short track speed skater in the history of the World Short Track Speed Skating Championships.

In addition, O’Brien’s overall ranking well inside the Top 32 means that he has secured two spots for Ireland in the men’s category at the 2022 World Short Track Speed Skating Championships which will be held in Montréal, Canada.

“I’m happy with the end result,” O’Brien said. “It was a different level of competitiveness out there this weekend compared to the European Championships and I felt the nerves on Friday, making mistakes that may have cost qualification into the main event.

“I was able to calm down my nerves on Saturday and compete in the ranking finals so I am happy with the progression. I am looking forward to building on that over the coming months and be back out there racing next season.”

O’Brien Selected For Short Track Worlds

The Ice Skating Association of Ireland (ISAI) has chosen Liam O’Brien to represent Ireland at the 2021 World Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Dordrecht, the Netherlands next month with Sean McAnuff named as substitute.

O’Brien made his debut at an ISU Championships last month at Europeans in Gdansk, Poland where he placed 25th overall, the best ever finish for an Irish short track speed skater at the event.

“I’m honoured to be given the opportunity to represent Ireland again at my first World Championships in the Netherlands,” O’Brien said. “I learnt a lot from my experience at the European Championships and hope to build off my performance and have a strong competition.”

The World Short Track Speed Skating Championship will take place 5-7 March 2021.

O’Brien Races To 25th At Short Track Euros

Irish short track speed skater Liam O’Brien (22) has finished in 25th place overall on his debut at the European Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Gdansk, Poland (22-24 January). Read more

O’Brien Ready For Short Track Europeans Debut

Liam O’Brien (22) will make his ISU (International Skating Union) Championship debut for Ireland this weekend at the European Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Gdansk, Poland (22-24 January).

The championships are being held in accordance with the Guidelines for ISU Events during the COVID-19 Pandemic with comprehensive testing, hygiene and social distancing protocols in place.

O’Brien will be among over 140 athletes from 24 countries participating in the annual event. He will first race on Friday (22 January) in the qualifying rounds for the 500, 1000 and 1500 metre distances with further rounds taking place over the following two days.

“It’s a very different atmosphere from previous competitions,” O’Brien said. “We can only leave the hotel for practice or competition and meals are served to our rooms.

“It’s been a long time since my last competition, so I’m excited to get out there and race. It’s also my first European Championships and first international competition representing Ireland so I hope I can put out a strong performance.”

The European Short Track Speed Skating Championships will be broadcast online with the qualifying rounds on 22 January on the ISU YouTube channel and subsequent rounds and finals on the Eurosport Player (paid subscription required). Geographical restrictions may apply.

The results of the championships can be followed on the event results page and on social media via the #EuroShortTrack and #ShortTrackSkating hashtags.

O’Brien Poland Bound For 2021 Short Track Europeans

The Ice Skating Association of Ireland (ISAI) has selected Liam O’Brien to be the sole Irish representative at the 2021 European Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Gdansk, Poland (22-24 January).

This will be O’Brien’s International Skating Union (ISU) Championship debut for Ireland. He currently trains in Seongnam, South Korea under coach Lee Kwang Soo.

“I am very honoured to be given the opportunity to represent Ireland at the prestigious European Championships,” O’Brien said. “It will be my first Senior competition for Ireland and want to put out a strong performance and I am eager to race.”

Seven Speed Skaters Selected To 2020/2021 ISAI National Team

The Board of Directors of the Ice Skating Association of Ireland (ISAI) have selected seven speed skaters to the ISAI National Team for the 2020/2021 season.

The following ISAI members have been chosen to represent Ireland on the international stage at International Skating Union (ISU) events::

Short Track Speed Skating

Ryan McAnuff
Sean McAnuff
Liam O’Brien
Ava Ryan

Speed Skating

Tara Donoghue
Rory McCarthy
Siún Ní Dhúgáin

 

Ryan McAnuff has been selected to the National Team for the fifth consecutive season. At the 2020 European Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Debrecen, Hungary, he finished in 34th place overall with a career best individual placing of 24th in the 1000 metres. He is currently studying medicine at the University of Limerick.

Sean McAnuff joins his brother Ryan on the National Team for the fifth time in a row. He placed 35th at the 2020 European Short Track Speed Skating Championships with a personal best individual finish of 25th in the 1500 metres.

Liam O’Brien has been selected for the Irish national team for the second time. He currently trains in Seongnam, Republic of Korea under the tutelage of Lee Kwang Soo.

Ava Ryan became the first female short track speed skater to be named to represent Ireland at an ISU Championships in January 2020. She set three national records in her World Junior Short Track Speed Skating Championships debut. She trains under Simon Cho, 2010 Olympic medallist, at the Potomac Speed Skating Club in Maryland, United States of America.

Tara Donoghue placed 11th in the Mass Start and 18th in the 3000 metres at the 2020 World Junior Speed Skating Championships in Tomaszów Mazowiecki, Poland, the best results ever by an Irish ice skater at an ISU Championships. Earlier in the season, she also became the first ice skater to earn a spot for Ireland at the Winter Youth Olympic Games.

Rory McCarthy is the first male long track speed skater to be named to the National Team. Based in the Netherlands, his favourite distance is the 500 metres.

Siún Ní Dhúgáin has also been selected to the National Team for the first time. In July 2019, she participated in the “Road to Ice” training camp at Thialf Academy in Heerenveen, Netherlands.

You can find out more about our national team members here.