Tuesday 27 September 2016

Our golden athletes grab 37 medals in Special Olympics

Record one-day haul for our stars takes their medal tally to 70 in LA

Published 02/08/2015 | 02:30

From left, is Nuala Browne from Strabane, Co Tyrone, who won silver in the 500m kayaking
competition, with team mates Rita Quirke, who won a bronze, and Nicola Higgins, who was presented with a 5th place ribbon
From left, is Nuala Browne from Strabane, Co Tyrone, who won silver in the 500m kayaking competition, with team mates Rita Quirke, who won a bronze, and Nicola Higgins, who was presented with a 5th place ribbon
FAN BASE: Supporters of Team Ireland’s Lorraine Hession from Turloughmore, Co Galway, in fine voice
Aoife O’Sullivan of Owenabue, Cork City, with Claudine Keane and Claudine’s son, Robert
Dearbhail Savage from Mowhan, Co Armagh, is congratulated by her dad Michael and her mother Karen as she is announced a silver winner

Ireland has had its most successful day ever at the Special Olympics World Games yesterday, claiming 37 medals.

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On a remarkable day in Los Angeles, the team collected more medals than they did in the previous five days of competition.

There were medal and merit-ribbon wins for athletes from Antrim, Carlow, Cork, Dublin, Galway, Kerry, Kildare, Louth, Mayo, Meath, Tipperary, Tyrone, Waterford, Westmeath and Wexford.

The overall medal haul now stands at 70.

Once again it was the gymnasts who led the way, picking up four gold, seven silver and three bronze at the Collins Court Wooden Centre.

Our golfers also took a massive haul of eight medals. They will be bringing one gold, five silver and two bronze back to Dublin on Tuesday.

Other medals were won in kayaking, bowling, equestrian, athletics and aquatics.

Former Olympics silver medallist Wayne McCullough, who has lived in California for the last 23 years, paid a visit to the Games to cheer on Team Ireland.

"When I heard that the Special Olympics were on in LA, I just had to come and support the guys," he told Independent.ie.

A big winner on day six of the Games was Billy Kane (15), from Swords, Co Dublin, who clinched silver in the floor event, gold on the pommel horse, silver on the rings, silver on the high bar, gold on the vault and bronze in the all-round section.

His exploits were matched by his teammate Paul Keane (34), from Ferns, Co Wexford, who took a bronze on the pommel horse, silver on the rings, silver on the high bar, gold on the parallel bar and silver in the all-round section of gymnastics.

And 20-year-old Shauna Stewart from Coosan, Co Westmeath, will be taking home a silver from the beam competition, a gold medal on the vault and a bronze in the all-round section.

After three days of action at Griffith Park in Los Angeles, the golf competition culminated with more success.

Paul Kirrane (30), from Ennis, Co Clare, and his playing partner in the alternate shot competition, 72-year-old Patrick Rutherford, won bronze.

There was a gold medal for Margaret Carr (54), from Calry, Co Sligo, while both Leo O'Brien (18), from Rathdrum, Co Wicklow, and Donegal man Oliver Doherty (39) took silver medals in their section of the golf.

Rosemary O'Reilly (28), from Tara, Co Meath, took a silver in the Individual Skills.

Finally, there was more joy for 29-year-old Jill Connery from Scarva, Co Armagh, and her playing partner Ursula McDonnell, from Belfast, who took a silver in the Level 2 Alternate Shot, while Trudy Hyland, from Lough Road, Co Cork, took a fourth-place ribbon in the nine-hole Individual competition.

McCullough, who won silver for Ireland at Barcelona 1992, was called on to present a gold medal to James Meenan (20), from Dundalk, Co Louth, who won the 100 metre sprint.

"It was amazing to watch James win his gold medal for Team Ireland in the 100 metres; when he took off, no one was going to catch him - I've christened him the Junior Pocket Rocket," said McCullough.

"It's been great to meet James and some of the other athletics medallists, as well as the Team Ireland aquatics team and footballers.

"Team Ireland has a huge amount of medals at the minute and I know they're going to get more; win or lose, you've just got to fight until the end and I know they will do that."

Also in athletics, there was a medal for Donal O'Mahoney (42), from Kilcoole, Co Wexford, who took gold in the Pentathlon.

On what was an incredible day of results for Team Ireland yesterday, CEO Matt English said: "The experience of coming to Los Angeles and competing on a global stage is such a huge honour and all of our athletes and coaches can be so very proud of their efforts."

Sunday Independent

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