Council Chair honours Rousky athlete and Olympian, Eilish Flanagan

21st December 2021

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The Chair of the Council, Councillor Errol Thompson, recently hosted a reception for Eilish Flanagan to honour her achievement in becoming an Olympian at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and in recognition of her record-breaking achievement in her heat of the 3000m steeplechase at the games where she broke her own Northern Ireland record by 6 seconds. See below, full text of Councillor Thompson’s speech.

“As Chair of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, I am delighted to welcome you all to the Civic Offices of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, here at the Grange this afternoon.

I would like to extend a particularly warm welcome to our guest of honour, Eilish Flanagan who we are delighted to have as our guest today. We are also delighted to be joined by members of the Flanagan family including training partner, sometime opposition and identical twin sister Roisin, an exceptional athlete in her own right.

Eilish, your career started at schools level running for your school, Sacred Heart College here in Omagh. From there, you secured an athletics scholarship to attend Adams State University in Colorado and it must have been a bit of a culture shock from Rouskey to Colorado, but I am sure having Roisin, who also gained an athletics scholarship to Adams State, by your side, would have made the transition slightly easier.

You have enjoyed tremendous success in the various NCAA championships both on the track and cross country. Indeed, you have had international success at the European Cross Country Championships when you both were part of the Irish U-23 team which took silver in the European U-23 Cross Country Championships in Lisbon in 2019.

However, for you, Eilish, 2021 has been a fantastic year. It started tremendously well winning the 3000 metres steeplechase at the NCAA Division 2 Outdoor track and Field Championships in the States as well as finishing runner up in the 5000 metres at the same championships.

However, it was in May of this year that you were catapulted into possible Olympic selection when you obliterated your personal best in the 3000 metres steeplechase at a meeting in Eugene, Oregon taking 12 seconds of your personal best and breaking Kerry O’Flaherty’s Northern Ireland record by over a second and a half.

The postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics until this year, certainly proved to be a big bonus for you personally as it gave you that additional time to make an impact at world level which has been demonstrated so ably this year.

For every athlete, to compete at an Olympic games, to be able to call themselves an Olympian, is the ultimate honour. When you stepped onto the track at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on 1 August 2021to represent Ireland in the 3000 metres steeplechase, you realised your Olympic dream.

But you proved to yourself that you were not solely along to enjoy your experience. Although you didn’t qualify out of your heat, you ran a massive personal best and took another 6 seconds of your own Northern Ireland record running 9 mins 34.86 in Heat 3.

You completed the year with a home appearance at the European Cross Country Championships in Dublin where both Roisin and yourself were part of the home team which finished fourth in the senior championships which was another tremendous achievement.

Eilish, you have over the course of your career thus far, achieved so much and I am sure that you would give a lot of credit to your coaches who have helped you through the various stages of your career. You have been a tremendous ambassador for your home area of Rouskey, for your school, your university and for the Fermanagh and Omagh district. You have made us all very proud.

It is my earnest hope that in 3 years’ time, we will be welcoming you back to the Council offices to celebrate your achievements in the Paris Olympic Games in 2024 and who knows, perhaps Roisin will join you on that team.

Eilish, on behalf of the people of the Fermanagh and Omagh District, I would like to congratulate you on all you have achieved thus far and wish you every success for the future.