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Ireland's fastest man Israel Olatunde named 'UCD Sportsperson of the Year'

Posted 22 May, 2023

Talented sprinter Israel Olatunde has received the title of ‘Sportsperson of the Year' at the 2023 UCD Sport Awards.

The UCD Ad Astra track star made history last August when he became the first Irish runner to compete in a European 100m final.

His time of 10.17 in Munich was just four hundredths of a second away from claiming a bronze medal, and  broke the 15-year-old national record set by Paul Hession in 2007.

The then 20-year-old, who studies Computer Science at University College Dublin, later emphatically claimed the title of 'the fastest Irishman' when he set a new 60m Irish indoor record at National Indoor Athletics Championships earlier this year. Again, breaking a record that had stood for 16 years.

The Dundalk sprinter received his 'Sportsperson of the Year' award at a ceremony in the UCD Student Centre, which saw over 240 students from 24 different sports clubs honoured for their outstanding achievements on behalf of the University over the last twelve months. 

The UCD Athletic Union Council (AUC) Sports Awards aims to recognise excellence in student sport. Speaking at the event, (opens in a new window)UCD President Professor Orla Feely praised the students for their achievements and said sports was “an integral part of student life”. 

Alongside Israel being named as the ‘Dr Tony O’Neill Sportsperson of the Year’, a number of other awards were presented to several UCD clubs and sportspersons in recognise of their success in 2022/2023.

The Ladies and Men's Boat Clubs were both named the ‘Elite Club of the Year’ in recognition of both achieving overall joint winners at the National Rowing Championships. 

Club captains Shauna Fitzsimons and Ellie Scott received the award.

The Men’s teams won all four 8’s races, while the Ladies team defended their Intermediate 8 title.

The Men's Boat Club squad was also named the 'Elite Team of the Year' following their four Men's 8s titles at the National Championships. 

This was the first time in history any club has ever achieved this, and the most successful national championship the club has had in its 106-year history. 

The Men’s Boat Club coach Coman O’Connell was the recipient of the ‘Graduate of the Year’.

The ‘David O’Connor Memorial Medal’ was presented to Taekwon-Do Club captain Ciara Beirne, who has been chosen to compete with Team Ireland in the Taekwon-Do World Opens in July later this year. 

The ‘Dr. Padraic Conway Memorial Medal’ was presented to Rory Monks of the GAA Club. Rory managed the intermediate Camogie team to win the Fr. Meaghair Cup.

The ‘Gerry Horkan Club Administrator of the Year’ was presented to Louis Hemeryck of the Tennis Club following their development of a new initiative for distributing training sessions fairly across a large membership base, resulting in a near 60% annual growth rate since 2019/20. 

The Sailing team was named the ‘Varsity Team of the Year’ - as they became the first Irish team to win the British Intervarsities Team Racing Championship (BUSA Finals) in over fifty years. Team captain Jack Fahy accepted the award.

The Trampoline Club was named the ‘Varsity Club of the Year’, having had the highest levels of fresher retention ever recorded for the club with over 70% of their active members this year being freshers.

The Karate Club received the ‘Club Inclusion Award’ for their 'Introduction Programme' with the Japanese Society and the International Students Society for those interested in taking up the sport on a regular basis, whilst also providing regular training and competitive opportunities for over 100 students each week. Captain Alice Treacy accepted the award on behalf of the club.

Meanwhile the Equestrian Club won the ‘Event of the Year Award’ for their hosting of the Equestrian Intervarsities. 

The Club established a framework that will now be the basis of all future events of this kind and will ensure the longevity of clubs and competitions throughout the country.

By: David Kearns, Digital Journalist / Media Officer, UCD University Relations

To contact the UCD News & Content Team, email: newsdesk@ucd.ie