86 medals: Team Ireland has 'one of the most successful World Games ever'
TEAM Ireland will be bringing 86 medals home from the Special Olympics on Tuesday morning.
Six gold, five silver and five bronze on the final day of action in Los Angeles sent the Irish crowds into overdrive.
The 88 athletes leave Los Angeles with a final medal tally of 26 gold, 29 silver and 31 bronze. Thirty-one competitors also set personal bests.
Basketball was the big draw of the day as our all girl team took on Mexico in the final.
It went down to the wire with Ireland snatching victory by 19-17 just as the buzzer went.
Coach Vicki Ronning said she was “blown away” by her players.
“I am immensely proud of the girls and all the hard work they put in over the last nine months. Despite the strong competition they proved themselves to be the best.”
Dublin player Sarah Byrne, 18-years-old from Clondalkin, was struggling to believe their comeback.
“It was my dream to get a gold medal. We went to sleep for a little while but towards the end our defence picked up and our shooting got a bit better," she said.
At the Drake Stadium in UCLA Team Ireland’s 11-a-side footballers beat Iceland 5-4 on penalties to win bronze.
The team played five matches in five days in 30 degree heat.
Head coach Paul Martyn said the team "just epitomised the determination to bring home a medal". "The respect the lads showed after the missed penalty was sportsmanship of the highest order."
On the athletics track there was further medal joy for the relay team – Aoife Beston (25) from Claremorris, Co Mayo, Donal O’Mahoney (42) from Kilcoole, Co Wicklow, Timothy Morahan (26) from Rathmines, Dublin and James Meenan (20) from Dundalk Co Louth – who won a silver medal.
In badminton there was a gold medal in the mixed doubles for Amy Quinn (30) from Bray, Co Wicklow and her partner Brian Hooper (33) from Gorey, Co Wicklow.
There was more medals for Mullingar man Peter Malynn (57) and ] Anne Hoey (51) from Drogheda in the doubles bocce. They took a silver medal.
Speaking on the final day of competition Team Ireland, CEO Matt English said: “Each and every member of Team Ireland has put in an extraordinary effort here in Los Angeles.
"From medals, ribbon placements and personal bests, this has been one of the most successful World Games ever."
He paid tribute to he coaches and management team who helped the athletes reach the games.
"I know the people of Ireland will welcome back our athletes and give them the hero’s welcome they rightly deserve," he said.