Trinity sailor Aisling Keller has been denied the opportunity to compete for her spot at the 2021 Olympics, after Ireland’s sailing association nominated Annalise Murphy to compete instead – without running trial regattas to decide who gets the berth.
Keller, whose performance last year ensured Ireland qualified for the Olympics in the first place, has hit out at Irish Sailing today for the way it handled the process, and announced she has resigned from the organisation.
Keller was scheduled to compete for Ireland’s Olympic spot with other sailors in trial regattas in Palma and Hyéres this summer.
But after these events were cancelled in light of the coronavirus pandemic, Irish Sailing nominated Murphy – a silver medalist in the 2016 Olympics – to take the spot in Ireland’s Olympic boat.
Keller resigned from Irish Sailing in April, she said in a statement today, adding that she “wasn’t happy with my progress or how I was treated by Irish Sailing”.
“I was under the impression that the latter two trial regattas would be replaced for regattas later on in the year, rather than scrapped, which is contrary to most other Olympic sports”, she said.
Murphy’s nomination was based on her performance in February’s World Championships in Australia, where she secured a 12th-place finish. Keller finished 63rd.
“It’s a bit frustrating to not have the chance to redeem myself after a disappointing result in Australia”, said Keller.
She added: “For now my plan is to return to college and get my physio degree and continue with my love for sailing.”
Former Trinity student Aoife Hopkins will also miss out on a chance to compete at next year’s Olympics as a result of Murphy’s nomination.
In a statement this afternoon, Irish Sailing performance director James O’Callaghan said: “Annalise’s performance in the 2020 Worlds made her a clear favourite to win the scheduled trials.”
The decision will give Murphy, a silver medallist in the same category in Rio 2016, a chance to go one better in Tokyo next year.
The decision has yet to be ratified by the Olympic Federation of Ireland, but this move is expected to be a formality.