BRUISED, blistered and overwhelmed with pride, amputee athlete Garry Hoey triumphed at the Great Limerick Run Marathon Relay last weekend.
The Dundalk man made history by undertaking the relay race on crutches, without the use of his prosthetic limb, completing his section of the race in an impressive one hour and 24 minutes.
'There was a great sense of achievement I have to say when I handed over the baton, it was almost overwhelming as I couldn't believe I'd done it,' said the Belfry resident.
Having endured severe blistering to his hands due to the pressure of the crutches, Garry admitted it was a tough challenge.
'I hadn't actually realised how hilly the course was going to be, and, as I'd done most of my training on the flat, it was tough,' Garry told The Argus.
'I started my route in the city where there was great support from the crowds, I think people couldn't believe we were going to do the race on crutches! But then the route it veered off onto roads where there was hardly anyone about, which was difficult at times.'
When Garry handed over the baton he was bussed back into the city so that all four members of the team could cross the finish line together.
'I actually had to go back to the hotel first to burst the blisters on my hands, they were in pretty bad shape. I think I could have finished my leg of the race even quicker if the hands hadn't been so bad.'
Garry's four man 'Team Umbro' celebrated finishing they relay in five hours 37 minutes.
'I was competing with the Irish Amputee football squad, and we had two teams taking part in the race. There was just seven seconds between us and the 'Paddy Power' team in the end, so it was a good result.'
Both teams were 'delighted', said Garry, with the public response to amputee sports, and are looking ahead now to the Irish Amputee football tournament, also set to take place in Limerick, from August 9 to 11.
'We really wanted to raise the profile of amputee sports, and highlight the achievements of amputee athletes, that's why I decided to take part in the Great Limerick Run.
The response we received was just amazing, and I'm really proud to have been a part of that.'