Irish Olympian, swimmer Andrew Bree, has been awarded approximately $39,000 (£25,000) in damages after his injury lawsuit came to a close in a Belfast High Court this week. The settlement was reached as part of compensation to the athlete after being involved in a car accident in October 2010, an accident which the athlete claimed derailed his ability to make the London 2012 squad for his country.
Bree, who competed in the 2000 and 2008 editions of the Olympic Games for Ireland in the 200m breaststroke, was in the process of training for a third Olympics when he was involved in a road accident, setting his preparation back by three months. Bree contested that the head, back and leg injuries sustained in the collision and subsequent training impact led to his failing to qualify for the 2012 Games.
As such, Bree sued to reclaim funding grants that were cut when he failed to qualify, with a figure of approximately $23,000 (£15,000) identified as what the swimmer had received from Sport NI in the year leading up to the accident. Bree had additionally been allocated approximately $19,000 (€12,000) from the Irish Sports Council for each of the three years before that.
Having been confident of earning a spot on the Irish 2012 Olympic roster prior to the accident, Bree described himself as entering “a dark place” after being injured. “I felt isolated, I was at a level of training surrounded by such a high, elite group” he told the UK Newsletter. Once it was confirmed that he would not be representing Ireland in London, Bree expressed, he “just wanted to go away and escape” (Belfast Telegraph)
The defendant’s counsel was expected to continue cross-examination earlier this week, but, instead, Bree’s lawyer confirmed that a settlement had indeed been reached.