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'You do it to help': Philip Doyle balancing Olympic preparations with work on the frontline

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Highly rated: Philip Doyle is a Tokyo medal prospect

Highly rated: Philip Doyle is a Tokyo medal prospect

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Highly rated: Philip Doyle is a Tokyo medal prospect

Dr Philip Doyle has a dream of winning an Olympic medal for Ireland next year on the rowing lake outside Tokyo. A dream that he is chasing while fulfilling his other lifetime ambition - that of being a doctor.

When this summer's Olympics were postponed, Doyle immediately went back to medicine and began work at Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry, while turning the garage at his family home into a temporary venue for his training sessions.

With his rowing machine, weights and a few other bits of gym equipment, Doyle is able to train away for the Olympic Games, hoping that he and partner Ronan Byrne will be able to at least match, if not better, the silver medal they won in the double sculls at last year's World Rowing Championships in Ottersheim.

But to do that, Banbridge man Doyle has to put himself through a work/training regime that would defy Superman.

Tomorrow he starts a run of working nights at Daisy Hill. "So I flip the day on its head," says the 27-year-old.

"I have my breakfast at 4pm, and then do a hard training session before heading for work. I'll get off at 9am, so then I do another hard training session, eat my dinner at about 11.30am and then go to sleep. I'll wake up at 4pm and repeat.

"You get into the rhythm of it, but the hard bit is when you come to the end of your nights regime and go back onto days. Getting your body to readjust then can be hard."

Doyle had no doubts about what he would do once Tokyo 2020 was postponed for a year and the National Rowing Centre, down in Cork where he had been training, was closed.

"I came straight back to medicine and volunteered for work immediately. I know it sounds a bit pious, but when you are a medical worker, be it doctor, nurse, midwife, paramedic, whatever, you are there to help humanity. That's why you became what you became. It's not just to hear yourself called 'Dr' or something.

"You do it to help, and if that means walking into a hospital where there are coronavirus patients, then that's what you do."

Coronavirus is an enemy for Doyle on a second front.

Yesterday Thomas Bach, the President of the International Olympic Committee, said that if Tokyo could not host the Games next summer then they would be cancelled and the Olympic movement would move on to preparing for the Winter Games of 2022 in Beijing and the next Summer Games, Paris 2024.

And the general tone of Bach's comments indicated that there was now a real doubt about the Tokyo Games going ahead in July 2021. "We cannot employ 3,000 people on an Organising Committee forever," said Bach, who described the task ahead as "mammoth."

So what will Philip do?

"The same as Ronan and I did when there was doubt about this summer going ahead," he says.

"We put all that out of our minds and trained hard until someone gave us certainty.

"Until someone says 2021 is gone too, then we will train away and follow our dream."

Irish Independent