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Mardyke Arena Assists Vanderwal to Reach Olympic Dream

28th June 2012

Press Release 

Patsy Ryan, General Manager, Mardyke Arena (Left) and Jeff Gomez, Strength & Conditioning Coach, Mardyke Arena (Right), presents Rachel Vanderwal, GB Women’s Olympic Basketballer, with a crystal vase to acknowledge her achievement, in being selected for the GB Women's Olympic Basketball Team. 

Great Britain Womens Basketballer, Rachael Vanderwal has officially been named in the GB Women’s Olympic Basketball team for London 2012, under the support and assistance of the Mardyke Arena, University College Cork. 

The Cork based, Canadian-born basketballer ventured overseas in 2005 to play in the Irish Women’s SuperLeague, where she still remains. Her first two seasons she played with Donoughmore (Cork), where she won back-to-back cup and league titles, before playing the following season with Iona (Cork). In 2009, she signed for the University of Limerick and led the league in scoring. In 2011, she was named SuperLeague Player of the Year and helped her side to the National title. This season she captained the side not only to back-to-back SuperLeague titles, but also the coveted National Cup title. She retained her player of the year title for 2012.

A Secondary school PE teacher at North Presentation Secondary School on the North-side of Cork City, Rachael’s success story to date truly reflects the amateur ethos in the professional era. Rachael was only delighted that a high performance facility such as the Mardyke Arena was right on her doorstep and was able to meets the demands of her training to ensure that she would reach her dream and ambition, to reach an Olympic Games. The Mardyke Arena took over Rachael’s fitness programme in December 2011, under the guidance of Jeff Gomez, Strength & Conditioning Coach of the Mardyke Arena.

Speaking at the presentation Rachael said: “The Mardyke Arena has been brilliant in my preparation for heading in to the Great Britain basketball camp; it has everything that a high elite athlete needs for high performance. We have used the elite gym, indoor running track, the gait analysis, the basketball courts, the hydrotherapy pool and the swimming pool. It has everything that I needed and it has helped me to reach my goal, reaching the Olympics.”

“We did an average of 3-4 lifting sessions, 2-3 energy sessions, 2-3 speed sessions per week with Rachael. The main goal was to get Rachael ready for the camp starting at the beginning of May. We had to take into account the Irish super league competition as well and made sure she peaked at the right time. Her testing went very well on the first day of the camp; she achieved the 3 highest scores out of the 4 tests for the whole squad. Rachel has been a pleasure to work with and always pushes through the ‘pain barrier’. This is a great honour for the Mardyke Arena and myself to see the benefits of having exceptional sporting facilities that are unrivalled in the region and we hope she can kick on from here and achieve Olympic glory,” said Mr. Jeff Gomez, Strength & Conditioning Coach, Mardyke Arena, UCC.

The Mardyke Arena, University College Cork has only recently added over 40,000 square feet to the original Arena, new state-of-the-art facilities include an indoor 60 metre running track, a performance analysis lab, a lecture theatre, 2 additional Gym areas with over 140 additional pieces of the latest gym equipment and 3 additional fitness studios. The facility also boasts a new Spa and Relaxation area with additional sauna and steam room facilities, as well as hydrotherapy suite, physiotherapy and wellness centre, a new hospitality area and extensive new members and team changing facilities, which positions the Arena as a truly world-class sporting and leisure facility.


For further information, please contact:
Wayne Falvey, Mardyke Arena, University College Cork – Tel: 021 4904790 or Email:


About Rachael Vanderwal

• Born: Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. 27/06/83
• Live in cork
• English mother (from Merseyside)
• PE teacher at North Presentation Secondary School in Cork
• Position: point guard
• Height: 1.75 m (5’9)
• Caps for Great Britain basketball: 40


Pre- 2010 Development Facilities:
• 25m Pool & Learner Pool
• 3 x Gyms
• Climbing Wall Hall
• 3 x Fitness Studios
• Drop-in Crèche Facility
• Sauna & Steam Room
• Suite of Changing Facilities

Additional Facilities following recent redevelopment:
• An Indoor Running Track (60m 3 lane sprint track & 30m 2 lane jogging track)
• A Performance Analysis Suite
• Over 140 additional pieces of new state-of-the-art Gym Equipment
• 2 additional new Gym Areas
• 3 additional Fitness Studios
• 60-Seater Tiered Lecture Theatre/Team Meeting facility
• New Spa and Relaxation Area with additional Sauna and Steam Room facilities
• Hydrotherapy Suite and Reception
• Physiotherapy and Wellness Centre
• Hospitality Suite
• Extensive new Members and Team Changing facilities


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