Susan O’Keeffe: A fitter, healthier population is the real gold standard

The success of our best athletes is heart-warming, but sporting investment must be directed towards the masses, who are less active than ever

Gold medalists Fintan McCarthy and Paul O'Donovan pose with their medals after the Lightweight Men's Double Sculls Final at the Tokyo Olympics. Picture: Maja Hitij/Getty Images

The smiling faces of Irish rowers, Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy, swimmer Mona McSharry and boxer Aidan Walsh warm the heart and induce a collective pride in their Olympic success. Especially as Ireland are minnows in world sport, rugby apart, and their achievements speak first and foremost to their extraordinary commitment and discipline. No one wins Olympic gold or competes in finals or semi-finals without early mornings, punishing practice regimes and sheer grit and determination.