London 2012: Introducing... Deirdre Ryan

High jump hopeful Deirdre Ryan is next under the spotlight as we continue our athlete-by-athlete guide to Ireland’s Olympic squad.

Event: High jump

Who is she? Deirdre Ryan’s first real taste of international competition came in 1999 when, at the age of 17, she finished ninth in the high jump at the World Youth Championships in Bydogszcz, Poland.

Juggling studies, work and training, she upped sticks and moved to Germany three years ago to train in Leverkusen under Gerd Osenberg. That decision bore fruit last year as Ryan had her best season yet, culminating in a breakthrough performance to finish sixth at the World Championships in Daegu. She turned full-time shortly afterwards, helped by an increase in funding from the Irish Sports Council.

Her progress, as well as her contribution to Dundrum South Dublin’s first National League title since 1987, was recognised as she took home the Athlete of the Year prize at last year’s National Athletics Awards.

Road to London: Ryan nailed her Olympic qualification in Daegu last September, setting a new Irish record as she jumped a PB of 1.95 to finish in sixth place. She has struggled with a few niggles since then and was far below her best on her return to action at the Shanghai Diamond League meet last month where she could only manage 1.80m.

What she says about herself: “At this stage now, it’s your own pressure. You do it for yourself, you do it for your coach and all the people that have put the time in over the years — you want to do well for them.” (, April 2012)

What they’re saying on the internet: “Can she replicate her Daegu performance and get into the top 6 or 8 again? Will the standard be higher in 2012, and will a PB be needed to even make the top 8? Or will she just be a one championship wonder? She’s gone full time now so hopefully this will help her push on from a great 2011.” (Pisco Sour,

Medal chances? 2.02m and 2.03m have been the medal heights at the last two Olympics whereas 2.00m was enough in Daegu last autumn. Ryan knows that she’ll need a new PB to have any chance of landing a podium place. If she can recapture her Daegu form, two Jimmys…

Gavin Cooney
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If you meet her in a bar, ask her about… her life outside athletics. Last year she was involved in organising a sustainability conference in conjunction with the UN.

If she was a YouTube video, she’d be… freehand circle drawer Alexander Overwijk. A seriously impressive talent.

YouTube Credit: gravylookout

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Niall Kelly

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