On 26th July, the Olympic flame will burn again as the world’s best athletes gather in Paris to compete at the 33rd edition of the summer games. A strong contingent of Ireland’s best and bravest will be among their number, and Irish medal-winning prospects across several disciplines are as promising as they have been in a generation.

At the last games in Tokyo (2020), Kellie Harrington (boxing) along with Fintan McCarthy and Paul O’Donovan (rowing) stood draped in the tricolour as Irish gold medallists on the podium as Amhrán na bhFiann blared.

Their efforts brought Ireland’s total haul of Olympic gold medals up to 11 since 1928, and the class of 24 will be determined to emulate their predecessors this summer. Below, we’ve profiled the athletes and gymnasts preparing to fly the flag for Ireland in France.

Rhasidat Adeleke

Age: 21

Discipline: Women’s 200m, Women’s 400m

Tallaght-born sensation Rhasidat Adeleke has been a star in the making since winning the 100m and 200m double at the 2021 European Athletics Under-20 Championships, and the 21-year-old is widely considered to be one of the brightest track prospects in the world.

Adeleke was the first Irish woman ever to smash the 50-second barrier over 400 metres and holds six Irish national records. She only turned professional last year, but showcased her limitless potential again in the recent European Athletics Championships when she ran a second-leg 49:52 time to turn the 4x400m mixed replay final on its head, to help a talented Irish quartet to gold.

Shortly afterwards, Adeleke earned a first senior championship (silver) medal of her own in the women’s 400m with an incredible time of 49.07 to become the fastest female athlete under the age of 23. Big things are expected of the Dubliner in Paris.

Sharlene Mawdsley

Age: 25

Discipline: Women’s 4x400m relay, Mixed 4x400m relay

Sharlene Mawdsley inspired a piece of iconic Irish sports commentary for her part in Ireland’s 4x400m mixed replay triumph at the European Athletics Championships alongside Rhasidat Adeleke. Running the crucial final leg, Mawdsley’s unstoppable surge was narrated excitedly by RTE’s Greg Allen, who said: “Just hold your nerve…. she’s holding her nerve.” Listening back gives you goosebumps every time.

Incredibly, Mawdsley hadn’t even been due to compete in the relay, having run the 400m final shortly before. However, she came to the stadium for the semi-finals with a ‘just in case’ remit, and the super-sub was drafted into the line-up when Kelly McGrory was injured while warming up.

Mawdsley’s efforts helped Ireland to book a place in the 4x400m mixed final, though her race-winning last leg in the final itself ensured that her name would be written into Irish sporting folklore.

Mawdsley exploded onto the athletic scene in 2021 at the European Athletics Indoor Championships, and she has collected four indoor and two outdoor titles since. The Tipperary native lodged a 49.40 split at the European Athletics Championships in Rome, and she will hope that this time sets the standard for Paris.

Ciara Mageean

Age: 32

Discipline: Women’s 1,500m

Ciara Mageean has never been short of medals, but the County Down athlete finally got her hands on gold at the European Athletics Championships in Rome when she broke free to win the women’s 1,500m event. The 32-year-old followed in the footsteps of famed Irish runner Sonia O’Sullivan to claim her prize, and became the first individual Irish European champion since O’Sullivan last did it in 1998.

Mageean had won silver in the same race in Munich in 2022 and bronze in Amsterdam in 2016 before that, while another bronze at the Indoor Games in Glasgow in between (2019) also suggests that she has been on the cusp of glory for some time. Mageean finally delivered gold in Italy with a time of 4:04.66 – a run well short of her personal best (3:55.87).

Mageean had to extract herself from a difficult position to prevail in Rome, and after her triumph she offered an insight into the final moments of the race, saying:

I was boxing in and had nowhere to go but I didn’t grow up playing camogie to get boxed in. Words can’t even come close to describing how I feel. Everyone back home knows how long I’ve been doing this and how hard I’ve been trying. I was super nervous but I had a plan and a mission – to hear Amhrán na bhFiann on top of the podium.

Andrew Coscoran

Age: 27

Discipline: Men’s 1,500m

Andrew Coscoran was a 1,500m finalist at the European Athletics Championships and eventually finished 13th in that event, and the Balbriggan native will be targeting an improved performance in Paris. Coscoran is an Irish national record holder at both 1,500m and 5,000m, setting a new best time of 13:12.56 for the latter in Boston in January. Coscoran is also one of only 12 Irishmen ever to run a sub-28-minute time in the 10,000m.

Coscoran joined the athletics club in his locale, Star of the Sea, in 2010, and at the tender age of 18, his middle-distance running was sharp enough to earn a sports scholarship with Florida State University in the US. Coscoran was part of the Irish Olympic squad in Tokyo (2020), where he bowed out at the semi-final stage of the 1,500m category.

Brian Fay

Age: 25

Discipline: Men’s 5,000m

Brian Fay grew up in Dublin’s Glasnevin, where former Olympian Phil Conway was among those to coach him during his formative years. Fay set a new National Record time of 13:01.40 for 5,000m in Heusden in 2023, though he fell well short of that lofty standard when finishing 14th in the same discipline at the recent European Athletics Championships in Italy with a time of 13:29.48. If Fay can recapture his form from last year, however, then he has the potential to kick on in France.

Four years ago, competing as a 21-year-old, Fay delivered the fastest-ever 3,000m steeplechase by an Irish male athlete for 36 years and the fourth-fastest Irish run in the discipline with a time of 8:33.93. Fay was also involved at the last World Championships in Budapest in 2023, though his 5,000m time of 13.42 was disappointing and he subsequently failed to make the cut for the final.

Sophie O’Sullivan

Age: 22

Discipline: Women’s 1,500m

The daughter of legendary Irish runner Sonia, Sophie O’Sullivan certainly isn’t short on pedigree, and she showed real promise to win the 1,500m at the European Athletics U23 Championships in Espoo, Finland with a new personal best time of 4.07. O’Sullivan is currently based in the US, and shortly after her Finnish success, she posted the fastest time in US college sports history when she ran 2:37.08 in a 1,000m event.

O’Sullivan has been busy stateside in the lead-up to the Olympics, though she didn’t meet expectations at the recent NCAA finals in Eugene, Oregon, eventually finishing 12th in the 1,500m final with a time of 4:13.39. It’s safe to say that progress has slowed down a little since the turn of the year, though O’Sullivan has another opportunity to shine this summer.

Sarah Healy

Age: 23

Discipline: Women’s 1,500m

Monkstown’s Sarah Healy finished seventh behind compatriot and winner Ciara Mageean at the European Athletics Championships in Rome earlier this summer, though her qualification for the event was another indicator of the 23-year-old’s progress. Healy was a 1,500m semi-finalist in the 2023 World Athletics Championships and broke the Irish Indoor record for the same distance in Liévin, France in February this year.

Healy emerged as a wonderkid to win two gold medals at the Under-18 European Championships in Hungary in the summer of 2018. She won the 3,000m before setting a new record to win the 1,500m race shortly afterwards. She starred at those games for Ireland alongside Rhasidat Adeleke. Healy is an athlete on the up and she could make a real splash this summer.

Sarah Lavin

Age: 30

Discipline: Women’s 100m hurdles

Limerick’s Sarah Lavin has bags of experience to go along with her explosive ability, and the Irish 100m flat record holder posted a highly respectable seventh in the 100m hurdles at the European Championships in Rome. Her best career effort to date was a bronze medal at the 2023 European Championships in Poland with a time of 12:82. Lavin beat that time at the World Championships (12:62) later the same year, and she set a new Irish record with that excellent display in Hungary.

Raised in Lisnagry, Lavin developed her love for athletics and running from the age of seven at local club Emerald AC. She smashed several national junior records in Ireland before emerging as a force on the senior scene. In April 2023, Lavin suffered the tragic loss of boyfriend Craig Breen, who lost his life in a rally incident just weeks after she had competed at the European Indoor Championships in Turkey.

Fionnuala McCormack

Age: 39

Discipline: Women’s marathon

Three-time European Cross Country gold medallist Fionnuala McCormack is also a four-time Irish Olympian, having competed at the games in Beijing (2008), London (2012), Rio (2016) and Tokyo (2020). McCormack will become the first female Irish athlete ever to appear at five Olympics when she jets into Paris this summer.

Hailing from Wicklow, McCormack registered her best-ever time in a marathon of 2 hours 23:58 minutes in 2021, though she would need to shave a good chunk off that to make the podium in France next month. McCormack has competed at a high level over numerous distances from 1,500m all the way up to marathons.

Rhys McClenaghan

Age: 24

Discipline: Gymnastics (pommel horse)

Rhys McClenaghan is preparing for a summer of major milestones with his 25th birthday arriving just a week before the opening of the Paris Olympics. The double world champion will represent Ireland in the gymnastics pommel horse event, where a concerted push for a medal is anticipated from the talented Newtownards native.

McClenaghan finished seventh on his Olympic debut in the discipline in Tokyo, and he booked his place for this summer’s games through his triumph at the World Championships in Antwerp last October.

The accomplished performer clinched his first World title a year before that in Liverpool (2022), and he also has three European gold medals, a Commonwealth title and a World bronze medal in 2018 in his locker.

McClenaghan’s slick pommel horse performance at the World Championships in Antwerp last year made for mesmerising viewing, and a repeat display could be enough to land him a gold medal in Paris.

Speaking ahead of his participation in Paris, McClenaghan said:

It’s a huge honour to be selected for my second Olympics Games. It is the biggest show in the world, and I am looking forward to going out and performing to my best.

With the diverse gymnastics and athletics events approaching, follow along with the fixtures and results on TonyBet, and bet on Irish athletes today!