Mark Gallagher, a journalist with the Irish Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday is the Investec 20x20 Media Awards winner for the month of October.  Mark’s winning article entitled, “Deep Impact,” published in the Mail on Sunday, offers a fresh perspective into the life of an elite performer in what is one of the world’s most dangerous extreme sports.  


Claire Walsh who hails from Leixlip, Co. Kildare, became an Irish record holder earlier this year when she set two national records, when competing in the 2019 World Free Diving Championships in the French town of Villefranche-sur-Mer, outside Nice.  Her achievements of descending to a depth of 44 metres in the free immersion dive and 36 metres in the constant weight discipline are even more impressive considering she blacked out on her maiden dive in her first ever world championships.  

Claire Walsh free diving

Anna Kessel, Investec 20x20 Media Awards judging panel Chair & Daily Telegraph’s Women Sports Editor, said: I loved 'Deep Impact'; it's rare that you get to read about extreme sports in national sports coverage unless a terrible accident has occurred. So, it was wonderful to read Mark Gallagher's interview with Ireland's record-setting free diver Claire Walsh, in which she joyfully described what it is about the sport that she loves so much, 'the closest thing we will ever experience to flying.' Gallagher didn't shy away from the dangers, detailing the tragedies that have dogged the sport, but without sensationalising the risks and still affording Walsh the respect that a sportsperson of her achievement so deserves. Beautifully written, Gallagher's entry stood out among this month's articles.”


 Mary O’Connor, CEO, Federation of Irish Sport said: “The thought of being able to hold your breath for five minutes and 59 seconds like Claire is simply just astonishing, let alone descending to depths of the equivalent size of Liberty Hall. Claire’s passion for her newfound vocation and the sport of free diving shines through in this excellent article from Mark Gallagher. Claire is an Irish sporting pioneer and although we don’t have the water temperatures required for freediving training off our beautiful coastline, we look forward to seeing what she does next upon her return to Ireland.”


 The Investec 20x20 Media Awards recognise and reward excellence in Irish journalism focused on Women in Sport. Investec is a proud sponsor of 20x20, an initiative presented by The Federation of Irish Sport which calls on the people of Ireland to provide more support for women in sport. In demonstrating its commitment to the initiative, Investec has created this new awards scheme to help change the perceptions of women’s sport.  The Investec 20x20 Media Awards recognises that increased visibility will lead to greater cultural recognition of girls and women in sport.



To put forward an entry for the November Investec 20x20 Media Award and to win €1,000, please visit this page.

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