Northern Ireland news

Co Down rower returns to hospital frontline after Olympic dreams put on hold

Philip Doyle has returned to his medical career. Picture by RTÉ

A rower from Co Down has returned to the hospital frontline to help in the fight against Covid-19 after his Olympic dreams were put on hold.

Philip Doyle (27) had been due to travel to Toyko this summer to take part in the Olympic Games.

But after the event was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the trainee doctor returned to work at Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry.

"Hopefully something like this doesn’t happen again in our lifetime," he told RTÉ.

Read More: North Belfast man temporarily sets aside priesthood training to return to front line as doctor

"I haven’t worked with a team like this before and it really feels like we’re coming through something together.

"I think everyone after this will have a different outlook on life and what I’m getting from it is how amazing people can be when they need to be.

"It’s just incredible to see what people are willing to give up for others.

"It’s really like the spirit of mankind. You have to believe in mankind and this is really showing people what we can do."

The rower, who secured Olympic qualification and a silver medal at the World Championships last year with double sculls partner Ronan Byrne, said he is keeping up his training around his hospital shifts.

"I’m finding I’m having to train in the mornings, trying not to wake my mum up who’s sleeping upstairs, coming into hospital for 8.30am, work and then go home and try and get some food in and then try and train again in the evenings," he said.

"It is difficult to try and motivate yourself when you’re training on your own, and not having the water and scenery moving past you, the miles seem to take a wee bit longer."

But he said he is optimistic about the rescheduled Olympic Games next year.

"To be honest I think it will actually improve our chances next year, because it will light a fire underneath us and you don’t want to get burnt," he said.

"So, we’ll really push, and I think we’ll be more dangerous next year than we could have been this year."

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