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Ulster ace Meadow handed surprise chance to compete for Ireland in Rio Games

By Adam McKendry

Published 15/07/2016

Big chance: Stephanie Meadow has been given a wild card for Rio Games
Big chance: Stephanie Meadow has been given a wild card for Rio Games

Northern Ireland star Stephanie Meadow has been given a surprise chance to represent Ireland at the Olympic Games in Rio next month.

The 24-year old missed out on the Games after the International Golf Federation (IGF) released its list of qualifiers earlier this week.

Meadow was agonisingly close to making the initial list, however she fell just outside the top 60 at the end of the qualifying period.

The Jordanstown golfer has faced a tough year where she has struggled for form on the golf course having lost her father, Robert, to cancer in May.

However, Meadow has now been included at the Games after the withdrawal of Dutch pairing Anne van Dam and Christel Boeljon once it was discovered they were ineligible to compete as they do not comply with the Dutch Olympic Committee’s qualifying criteria.

The committee demand that their qualifiers be inside the top 100 ranked golfers in the world, a stipulation that van Dam (366th) and Boeljon (121st) fail to meet.

This stipulation also ruled out first reserve Dewi Schreefel, who is also from the Netherlands but is ranked 404th in the world, meaning Meadow, along with Brazilian Victoria Lovelady, has been called up as a replacement.

Meadow’s promotion to the Games will be officially announced shortly by the IGF. She will now join Cavan amateur Leona Maguire as the second representative for Team Ireland at the Games.

Maguire was confirmed yesterday as Ireland’s representative at the women’s event in Rio, while two-time Open Championship winner Padraig Harrington and Web.com Tour golfer Seamus Power will compete in the men’s event.

Redmond O’Donoghue, Chairman of the Confederation of Golf in Ireland commented on Maguire’s inclusion in the squad.

“It is fantastic to see Leona qualify for the Games as an amateur golfer,” he said. “She has such wonderful talent and now she has an opportunity to capture a medal at the Olympics so early on in her career.

“Of course it’s very fitting that Padraig has made the team. He has been pivotal in the campaign to have golf reintroduced to the Games.

“His experience will add another dimension to Team Ireland I’m sure.

 “With Seamus we have one of the rising stars of the professional game. He has made great strides this year and has tasted victory in America.”

He added “I wish them all well in Rio.”

Both the men and the women will compete in a 72-hole strokeplay competition in Rio. The men will compete first (11-14 August) with the women playing a week later (17-20 August).

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