Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Sligo Athletic Club: Running Shoes

Over 300 delegates from all over Ireland will converge on Sligo next weekend for the AAI congress. The venue is the Sligo Southern Hotel. While every congress has lively debates and provokes some controversy as policy is debated for the coming years, this years bi-annual gathering promises to be more difficult and controversial than most. The last two years have been quite traumatic for the association with the departure of CEO Mary Coughlin. Her departure had a sequel in the high court as she sued AAI and the Irish Sports Council for unfair dismissal. That case has cost our association dearly and much needed funds will be diverted to pay the costs. Many delegates will rightly question why this had to happen and if it could have been prevented. As a serving member of the board for the past two years I have to say that I found the whole issue very stressful and it calls into question the relationship between sports governing bodies, the Irish Sports Council and indeed the government. Hopefully the gathering of delegates in Sligo at the weekend will be able to draw a line under this sad saga and move forward with the aim of enhancing this great sport of ours and continue to make it the most successful International sport in the country. Much interest at this congress will centre on the election of the new board. Outgoing president Liam Hennessy will be challenged by former president Michael Heary who will be bidding to regain the presidency after a two year absence. It’s unprecedented for a former president to return so it will be interesting to see how the delegates vote on this. I myself will be hoping to be elected as chairman of high performance. I have had a long held interest in the high performance side of our sport and working with high performance race walkers has given me a clear insight into the needs of high performance athletes and if elected I will give it my best shot. Two other Sligo people will be going for election with Ann McHugh on the ballot paper to return to the juvenile committee and Michael O’Hart hoping to continue his good work on the competition and technical committee. Sligo AAI county board chairman Terry Hayes will not be seeking re-election to the finance committee which is probably a wise move considering the financial position we find ourselves in after the recent legal case.
Getting back to matters on the track, it was great to see such a good turnout at the Sligo AAI county championships last Wednesday at Sligo IT track. The quality of the performances was also excellent and it augers well for the forthcoming track season. Thanks to all the Sligo AAI county board officials for turning out and making this championship the best for many years.

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