Carrick-on-Suir’s Martin O’Loughlin has been appointed as manager of the Irish cycling team for the London Olympics. This will be his second time fulfilling the role. He was also the manager for the Athens Olympics in 2004.
O’Loughlin has over 30 years of involvement in the sport. He won his first race in 1980 and was still winning in 2011 where he claimed elite victories in the Coombes Connor Memorial race in Drogheda and the Emyvale Grand Prix in Monaghan.
In between, he has numerous Senior All-Ireland team and Rás Tailteann team medals. He was the Irish Veterans (over 40) champion on the road in 2007 and 2008, and also the time trial champion in 2007.
He is the club coach of Iverk Produce Carrick Wheelers, and also works as the Youth Development Coach for Cycling Ireland. Current An Post Sean Kelly Team professional Sam Bennett is one of many promising riders who are being coached by the Carrick schoolteacher.
Martin O’Loughlin was surprised to be offered the position. “Cycling Ireland parted ways with their High Performance Director and Olympic Manager Phil Leigh in October. The call asking me to take on the job came out of the blue, but it is a tremendous honour, so I didn’t have to think twice,” he said.
“I was very fortunate to be the manager for Athens where Waterford’s Ciarán Power achieved Ireland’s best-ever result, so perhaps that’s why I got the nod this time around.”
In addition to being Manager, O’Loughlin was an Olympic selector in 2004 and for the Beijing Games in 2008. He also took Nicolas Roche and Philip Deignan to a training camp in the French Alps prior to their departure for Beijing.
This time around, he will step back from selection as Sam Bennett is one of the riders in contention for a place on the road team. There are currently six riders on the long list. Three of them will compete in the Olympics.
There is also the added complication that the Tour de France finishes just seven days before the Olympic road race, which is 260km long. Ireland’s two highest ranked riders, first cousins Dan Martin and Nicolas Roche, are likely to compete in Le Tour.
Martin O’Loughlin hit the ground running and made his first official Olympic visit to London in the past fortnight. He was part of an Olympic Council of Ireland delegation of team leaders led by Chef de Mission Sonia O’Sullivan.
There he met with the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (LOCOG) officials and viewed the velodrome and the BMX facilities. Ireland has a good chance of qualifying one track rider in the omnium event and an outside chance of qualifying BMX rider Kelvin Bately.
It looks like it’s going to be a busy but exciting 2012 for the man from Carrickbeg!