Friday 30 September 2016

Team Ireland are an American Dream as medal count soars to 70

By Kevin Doyle in Los Angeles

Published 01/08/2015 | 07:01

Team Ireland’s Anne Hoey, a member of Drogheda Special Olympics Club, from Drogheda, Co Louth, celebrates after being presented with a Silver Medal for Bocce at the LA Convention Center
Team Ireland’s Anne Hoey, a member of Drogheda Special Olympics Club, from Drogheda, Co Louth, celebrates after being presented with a Silver Medal for Bocce at the LA Convention Center

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

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On a remarkable day in Los Angeles the team collected more medals that 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 lead 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 medal 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 9-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 today.

“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 gold medal for Donal O’Mahoney (42) from Kilcoole, Co Wexford who took a gold medal in the Pentathlon.

On what was an incredible day of results for Team Ireland, 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.”

The World Games conclude today when Ireland have big hopes in basketball and soccer.

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