BY CHRIS MCNULTY
THE announcement by Sky Sports that Jason Quigley is one of twelve young athletes to be awarded a ‘Sky Sports Scholarship’ that will provide a wide-ranging support programme over the next three years means that the Ballybofey man is committed to realising his ultimate goal – competing in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
The 22-year old Finn Valley ABC puncher hit the dizzy heights of the summit of Europe this summer when he won the European senior welterweight title, having won the European U23 title last December and then claimed his first ever Irish senior crown in February.
Rumours of a professional move have surrounded the young Donegal ace in recent times, but this confirmation that Sky Sports have included him as part of this elite programme has ensured he will remain in the amateur game until 2016.
The scholarship offers financial and developmental support, covering areas such as training, competition, nutrition and media. The athletes will partner up with a Sky Sports mentor who will offer support as they prepare for life in the spotlight.
The Sky Sports Scholarships scheme will provide financial support, media training, and mentoring.
Leading the scholarship programme is former UK Athletics National Events coach Tony Lester, who has mentored Roger Black, Nicola Sanders and Mark Richardson.
“I’m just over the moon with it,” said Quigley.
“It gives me security – security to travel and train in world-class set ups with world-class athletes in order to improve my game, learn and gain more experience to fulfilling my dream which is becoming Olympic champion in Rio 2016.
“At the start it didn’t feel real. It was a weird kind of feeling, it was massive. It gives you a lift to be involved with Sky – its worldwide, it’s not just a national TV organisation, it’s worldwide and it’s great to be involved now as I’m breaking onto the scene.”
Game game is a sometimes lonely and often financially draining one, but this announcement takes him onto a sound footing. The aid will also enable the middleweight kingpin to reimburse his coach, dad Conor, who has put countless hours into his development. Conor is a voluntary member of the IABA’s High Performance Unit.
Quigley will compete in the World Championships in Kazakhstan in October, but he’s a man with a roadmap that goes way beyond 2013.
He said: “My focus is, and has been in recent years, a podium position in Rio 2016. Absolutely everything is geared in that direction in my life, while in the interim I aim on impacting in a major way at European and World Championship level.
“This award enables me to support specific and training needs such as travel, nutrition, psychological, massage and sports science. In addition it puts me in a position to reimburse my coach.
“It’s vital to allow me access for technical and learning purposes, plus, in addition, in terms of travel, accommodation, mileage as I live three hours from Dublin in Co. Donegal, therefore, travel to National Camps etc. is cost related and again aid from Sky will make such a difference.
“My community, boxing for my country is and always has been very important to me and I have engaged at both levels as a role model and as a representative for my sport and I would be enthusiastic about continuing and developing that involvement.
“The scholarship will give me the stability to have a more elite team around me with the likes of physiotherapy, nutritionists and also physiologists were I will be able to have my body mentally physically 110 per cent ready to perform at my best.”
The twelve athletes awarded scholarships are: Jack Bateson (boxing), Holly Bleasdale (pole vault), Olivia Breen (sprints), Elise Christie (speed skating), Lucy Garner (cycling), Quillan Isidore (BMX), Jessica Judd (800m), Savannah Marshall (boxing), Siobhan O’Connor (swimming), Sam Oldham (gymnastics), Louis Persent (400m) and Jason Quigley (boxing).