|The road to the Sydney Olympics was made considerably less daunting for a number of Irish hopefuls today with the announcement of £1.1m in annual grants from the Sports Council. The direct financial support athletes receive is allocated towards training, coaching and competition expenses. An integral part of the Carding Scheme is free access to the Sports Medicine and Sports Science network. The top award of £18,000 in athletics went to two athletes, Nicky Sweeney (discus) and Brendan Reilly (high jump). Sonia O’Sullivan received £12,000 in relation to her needs while Catherina McKiernan did not receive any grant as she is funding her own training and preparations. Leevale have four recipients this year, including Mark Carroll with £15,000, Martin McCarthy (£5,000), Derval O’Rourke (£1,200) and Bryan Keane (£1,200). See the Irish Sports Council Website for the complete list of allocations.