In the five months since the last update Strike Films have been filming in; (deep breath…) Tallinn, Porto, Kazan, Bath, Aachen, Beijing, Berlin, the Swiss Alps, Doha and Dublin.
Among the many highlights was completing filming of “Children of the Revolution”, Joe Duffy’s (@talktojoe1850) exploration of the children who died during the Easter Rising. The weather on the final day was very different to the sunny summer shoots of June and July. But a cold, wet and windy Dublin provided the perfect backdrop as Joe brought the story of the children who were killed during that momentous week, to a close. Thanks go to Ger and the staff at The Oval Bar, Abbey Street (@ChawkePubGroup1) and John, John and Anne at Deansgrange Cemetery.
Special thanks also to Sinéad and Eoin Tracy, whose great aunt Bridget McKane was accidentally shot during the rebel retreat from the GPO. Sinéad gave Joe some wonderful insights into the life of their deceased relative on camera (Eoin was his sister’s PA!).
The Road To Rio has taken us to the more exotic locations- but for many of our athletes these events proved that the road to the Olympics is often rocky. July saw the team split, with Darragh Bambrick (@darraghbambrick) following Sarah Lavin (@sarahlavin_) in Tallinn for the European Under 23 Championships. Sarah didn’t have the greatest of meets, but as always she was great on camera, and we look forward to her bouncing back next year.
Meanwhile Dan “Doc” O’Connor had the rare joy of travelling with me to film Matthew McGovern and Ryan Seaton (@Irish49er) competing in the 49er European Championships in Porto. It was a great location, and the boys did well, but were hoping for more, but funding problems didn’t help. With a place already booked for the Olympics, they face a challenging year getting the finances on an even keel, while trying to fulfil their undoubted medal potential.
Having returned from the Baltic, Darragh was soon back on a plane heading even further east, to Kazan to film Fiona Doyle (@Fionamdoyle) at the World Swimming Championships. It was a tough meet for Fiona- but having broken multiple Irish records and the Olympic qualification time in 2015, she is able to look back on an extremely successful season in the pool.
August is the height of the season for most Olympic sports and as a result we found ourselves travelling for much of the month. First stop was Aachen, with Cian O’Connor (@Cian_O_Connor) and the Irish showjumping team as they rode in the FEI European Championships, hoping to secure one of the three remaining qualifying spots for the Olympics. Everything was going to plan- and Cian was riding well with a clear round 3. But as he approached the 11 fence of the fourth and final round… a steward ran out in front of Cian’s horse, Good Luck, who the knocked over the next fence. Cian went clear for the rest of the round, but that fault was the difference as Ireland finished one place, and less than one fence shy of Olympic qualification. The global audience saw the clear injustice and social media exploded. In an empty venue, only Irish Field journalist Brendan McArdle (@BrendanMcArdle) and the Road To Rio crew were around when the results of the appeal were announced at 2am. Unfortunately it was rejected and Cian’s hopes of Olympic glory were seemingly over. But… later this month we will be travelling to Lausanne with the Irish delegation to see if an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport will right this wrong.
While we were disappointed for Cian, Darragh mood was not improved by having to drive four hours through the night to make sure we made our connection to the UK and the European Pentathlon Championships. He has lead an adventurous life, but I don’t think he will ever drive on the autobahn again. We made our flight safely, just, and headed to Bath to follow Natalya Coyle in her attempt to make the plane for Rio. Having watched Irish teammate Arthur Lanigan- O’Keefe destroy the field to become European Champion, Natalya was spurred on to an excellent 11th place in the strongest continental championship in the sport and is well placed to make it to Rio. But to cap off an excellent month- she found out she had graduated with a 2:1 in Business Management, leaving her now free to focus 100% on making the Olympics.
August also saw the team undertake the furthest journey of the series to date- over 8,000kms to China for the IAAF Championships, to see Rob Heffernan defend his 50km world title. Rob was the star of the previous series, London Calling, and he didn’t disappoint with a fighting performance, finishing 5th in the stifling Beijing heat. As he works his way back to full fitness we should all be backing the old warrior to make a strong tilt at a medal in Rio.
Dr Paul Pollock’s (@ppmarathon) journey has been littered with bad luck and an injury of the eve of the key Berlin marathon meant that he entered the fray at less than 100%. His challenge, while running with a 12cm tear in his thigh, was to reach the qualifying standard and finish in the top three Irish athletes. He ran great race, with the Strike team looking on at one point from a makeshift cycle rickshaw ‘gantry’, and almost pulled off the miraculous. Paul made the time… but was fourth Irish athlete home by a matter of 10 metres. So thoughts are now turning to a marathon in the New Year, where Paul can push his best time even lower and give the Irish selectors no choice but to take him to the Olympics.
In October, Darragh got to experience that privilege of watching a supreme athlete at the very top of their sport. Having flown to Doha in the UAE, he was rolling as Michael Conlan (@mickconlan11) destroyed all rivals in his division to become World Champion. As reigning Commonwealth, European and World Champion, all that remains is the Olympic gold to complete the set. A great performer both in and out of the ring, it was a pleasure to be able to capture this journey with Ireland’s most decorated amateur boxer.
With Darragh in Doha, Jack Britton joined the team for our next shoot. As you can see form the photo below he was keen to send his mammy a snap of himself at work. For all the glamour of these trips, there is one sport which keeps taking us to places that shut down after 7pm, and that sport is track cycling. There must be a reason Velodromes are built in such quiet corners of the globe- but no one has been able to explain it to us yet. Least of all Martyn Irvine (@Martyn_Irvine), who was competing at the European Track Cycling Championships in Grenchen… look it up, but don’t go! As always Martyn was his insightful and charismatic self, despite having a tough time at a Championships where he had previously won bronze.
If you are still reading at this point- and lord only knows why, all that remains is to wish you and all those who have worked with Strike Films in 2015 a great Festive season. Rest assured we will be on the Road to Rio across Christmas and into the New Year, catching up with our athletes as they reflect on 2015, and look ahead to the Olympics. Strike Out.