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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 March, 2005, 18:38 GMT
Hurdler Coghlan quits athletics
Peter Coghlan
Coghlan says he can no longer afford to be a full-time athlete
Irish 110 metre hurdler Peter Coghlan reacted swiftly to the Irish Sports Council's decision not to fund him in 2005 by announcing his retirement.

Coghlan, one of several prominent athletes dropped from the funding scheme, said he had "forced to make the decision with great regret".

"I can no longer afford to train at the level required to compete at the elite end of the sport," he said.

Coghlan has a B standard for this year's World Championships.

The Economics graduate from Yale University said that money had "never been a motivating factor in my athletics career".

"I also realise that I am fortunate enough to have been able to pursue an endeavour so close to my heart. Everyone should be so lucky.

"But the commitment required to compete at the high performance end of athletics is enormous, and the grants I have received over the past five years - thanks to the Irish tax-paying public - have been essential.

"I also believe the enjoyment that successful athletes bring to the Irish public is worth that investment and more.

At 29 years old I firmly believe I have not unlocked my full potential in the sport
Peter Coghlan

"I am currently qualified to compete at this summer's World Championships in Helsinki in the 110m hurdles and had laid out a training plan for that event which I began in October.

"It is with great disappointment that I am now forced to bring those preparations to a premature close.

"Last year, American hurdler Allen Johnson won the World Indoor Championships with a personal best at the age of 33, so age is not a factor.

"At 29 years old I firmly believe I have not unlocked my full potential in the sport and with the right support could still compete with the best in the world.

"My coach agrees. My national federation, the Athletics Association of Ireland, agrees.

"Unfortunately the Irish Sports Council does not share that same belief.

"Investing in players and athletes, like most other investments, does not have a guaranteed return.

"The only guarantee is that if you do not invest at all, there will be certainly be no return.

I'm just relieved that I get a grant from the Northern Ireland Sports Council
Gareth Turnbull

"I wish the best to all my compatriots on the Irish athletics team and hope that they continue to produce the success that, in reality, is little short of miraculous given the current level of support structures and facilities in place in Ireland."

Gareth Turnbull, also among those to lose their grants, said that "people must be scratching their heads at some of the decisions".

"It's the sheer randomness of it all," Turnbull told BBC Sport.

"When we got the form, the criteria was there in black and white and it seemed pretty clear whether you were going to get a grant or not.

"I was certainly banking on getting 9,000 Euro and at this stage, I'm just relieved that I get a grant from the Northern Ireland Sports Council."

Turnbull will be among several athletes who will appeal against the Irish Sports Council's decision in his case.

Athletics Ireland has asked for an immediate meeting with the Irish Sports Council "to discuss the rationale behind the decisions".


SEE ALSO
NI athletes hit by funding blow
10 Mar 05 |  Athletics
McIlroy finishes fourth in Madrid
06 Mar 05 |  Athletics
Double gold for Irish in Madrid
05 Mar 05 |  Athletics


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