Olympians race off to take exams after their events
It's not always easy being a Special Olympian.
For four competitors in the Special Olympics, today will be a piece of cake compared to yesterday.
After competing in their competitions that morning, Eamonn Bennett (19) from Tarmonbarry, Co Roscommon; and teammates, Amy Cassidy (18) from Dunmore, Co Galway, Chelsea Passco (16) from Castlerea, and Martina Duffy (15) from Carracastle, Co Mayo, had to make their way to the Crescent Comprehensive College in Limerick to sit their home economics Junior Certificate exam.
All four are pupils at St Michael's in Castlerea and are part of Team Connaught, but because the national Special Olympics clashed with their exams, they were accommodated at the Dooradoyle College. They were all exhausted afterwards but looking forward to today and another day of competitions.
"I'm exhausted and I need a cup of tea," said Martina, who declared her exam was "easy" because she loves cooking.
She and Amy are part of the table tennis team, while Chelsea is an athlete and Eamonn is taking part in the equestrian competition and said he really wants to win a medal.
They will be welcomed home to Castlerea on Sunday night but it will be an early start the following morning as well for their woodwork exam.
Meanwhile, Patrick Egan is walking on air after he became the first person to win a gold medal on the first day of the competition.
The 21-year- old Leaving Certificate student from Dundrum got off to an excellent start in Limerick winning the coveted top prize in the 1,500-metre free-style.
He's hoping to repeat his success today in the 800m free-style and the 200m broadstroke.
"It feels great and I hope to win again tomorrow," Patrick said. He said he was cheered on by the five athletes who have travelled from his club, D6 Special Olympics, who are all part of the Eastern Region delegation. His mum and dad, Mary and Aidan, his granddad Kevin and other family and friends are also in Limerick cheering him on.
But the swimming champion will have to come back to earth quickly next week to face his next challenge.
"I'm doing my Leaving Cert exam in Design and Communication Graphics on Wednesday," revealed the Ballinteer Community College student.
The University of Limerick campus was a hive of activity for the first day of the competitions where most of the 1,500 athletes from the four corners of Ireland took part in the preliminary divisioning competitions on the first day of the games.
Sports ambassadors including rugby legends, Keith Wood, David Wallace and Alan Quinlan, as well as Dublin hurling manager, Anthony Daly and former football player, Jason Sherlock turned out to cheer on the athletes. The excitement will be even more tangible today when they will complete for those elusive gold, silver and bronze medals and a place on Team Ireland at the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles next year.