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I’ll give my all at Olympics to see what I’m capable of, says rower Doyle

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Bring it on: Philip Doyle is relishing his chance to shine in Tokyo. Photo: INPHO/Bryan Keane

Bring it on: Philip Doyle is relishing his chance to shine in Tokyo. Photo: INPHO/Bryan Keane

©INPHO/Bryan Keane

Bring it on: Philip Doyle is relishing his chance to shine in Tokyo. Photo: INPHO/Bryan Keane

Philip Doyle has been a frontline doctor throughout the pandemic and has also had a role in blockbuster television show Game of Thrones — oh, and he’s about to compete in his first Olympics just for good measure.

Rower Doyle will compete for Ireland in the double sculls alongside Ronan Byrne, and admits he can’t quite believe his Olympic dream is about to come true alongside 30 other Northern Ireland competitors.

“My coach said to me before the last Olympics that maybe Rio is a bit premature but that Tokyo could be on the cards. I thought there was no chance I would still be doing this sport in five or six years but sure here we are, qualified and ready to go,” said the 28-year-old from Banbridge.

“It’s surreal that it’s actually going to happen. It’s going to be the most physically demanding thing I’ve ever done and I am going to have to put my body somewhere it’s never been before to see what I can squeeze out of it.”

And as a doctor, Doyle knows all about the body’s capabilities, relishing the challenging nature of his role at Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry.

“The hospital has been a great experience, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I worked on the surgical team. At the beginning you were testing people for Covid. It was a big strain on resources. It was a logistical headache, hard to work around everything and trying to make sure everyone was safe,” he explained.

“People would be shocked to find my mother isn’t all that fussed about rowing. She thinks it is a distraction from my medical career. But she’s happy to see me doing something I get enjoyment out of. She gets very nervous around the racing.”

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And that part in Game of Thrones?

“I was the body double of the Hound. Emilia Clarke was sitting beside me in the make-up trailer, getting the blonde wig and grey dress on while I was getting the scar on the head and the beard put on. It was a fun thing to do.”

Kirsty Hegarty will represent Team GB in the trap shooting and likens her sport to “golf with guns”.

The 32-year-old Ballymena woman said: “Everyone thinks we are crazy for doing it so maybe there’s something in that. It’s a little bit like golf, the Americans sometimes refer to it as golf with guns. I don’t think Rory McIlroy would appreciate that!

“Who thought that someone from Ballymena would be stepping on the plane to go and compete at the Olympics.”


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