Monday 29 May 2017

5 Paralympic Heroes you may not know about

Pictured at the launch of Hidden Heroes in Dublin, from left Irish Paralympian,Greta Steimikyte; Activist and campaigner Joanne O’Riordan;Irish Paralympian,Niamh McCarthy
Pictured at the launch of Hidden Heroes in Dublin, from left Irish Paralympian,Greta Steimikyte; Activist and campaigner Joanne O’Riordan;Irish Paralympian,Niamh McCarthy

The world turns its attention to Rio de Janeiro this summer with the start of the Olympic Games.

The Paralympic Games which follow have gone from strength to strength and now can rival its sister tournament for all the drama, excitement and inspiration. Paralympic Ireland have chosen 44 athletes to represent Ireland at the games. Here we profile five of them.

Orla Comerford
Orla Comerford

Orla Comerford

Event: 100m

Classification: T13

DOB: 14/09/1997

Hometown:  Howth, Co. Dublin

Disability Group: Visually Impaired

Orla Comerford, from Dublin, has just finished her Leaving Cert, however, she didn’t let the stressful cramming get in the way of her gruelling training schedule and is now set to represent Ireland in the Paralympic Games in Rio. A passion for sprinting, Orla will compete in the 100m (T13) race at the Games and cites fellow T13 athlete Jason Smyth along with Derval O'Rourke as her inspirations for athletics.

Asked about balancing the demanding world of athletics and the dreaded Leaving Cert the Raheny Shamrocks club member says that it was “busy-but-doable”.

"I'd get up and go to the gym in the mornings, and of course there would be training after school," said the 18-year-old Dubliner. "I think hard work in training really translates into hard work in school, so hopefully the hard work will pay off."

Orla, who hopes to study at the National College of Art and Design next year, said she was "so proud" to be selected for the Paralympics.

"It's such an amazing Irish team - they've done so fantastically at all the Paralympic Games," she said. "It's such an honour. I never expected to be here."

 

Ireland's Greta Streimikyte with her bronze medal after competing in the T13 1500m at the 2016 IPC Athletic European Championships in Grosseto, Italy
Ireland's Greta Streimikyte with her bronze medal after competing in the T13 1500m at the 2016 IPC Athletic European Championships in Grosseto, Italy

Greta Streimikyte

Event: 1500m

Classification: T13

DOB: 24/08/1995

Hometown: Swords, Co. Dublin

Disability Group: Visually Impaired

While this is Greta’s first Paralympic Games, she was already a bronze medallist at the 2016 European Championships where she competed in the T13 1500m final in Grosetto, Tuscany, Italy.

Greta studies International Relations at DCU, so while many of her class mates are on J1 visas in the United States, Greta is preparing for the huge honour of representing her country the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio.

Greta was born prematurely in Vilnius in Lithuania, as one of triplets, along with her brother Arnas and sister Emilija. Her father moved to Ireland in 2006 for work, originally for a few months, but when he saw a difference in the Irish attitude to disability he began to realise that Ireland might make a good home for Greta and her siblings. So in 2010 Greta made the move with her family and hasn’t looked back since.

 

Niamh McCarthy

Ireland's Niamh McCarthy in action
Ireland's Niamh McCarthy in action

Event: Discus

Classification: F41 

DOB: 04/01/1994

Hometown: Carrigaline, Cork

Disability Group: Les Autres

Niamh from Cork is making her first appearance at this year’s Paralympic Games yet people have been sitting up to take note of her incredible talent since 2013. She is the European Record holder and also holds a bronze World Championship medal and silver European Championship medal.

The IPC Athletics World Championships in Doha in 2015 was her first major championships, where she secured a bronze medal to round off a superb debut. Niamh continued her good run of form at the 2016 Para-Athletics European Championships in Grosseto, Italy where she set a new European Record on her way to claiming a silver medal in the F40/41 Discus final. She is certainly another of the ones to watch at Rio 2016.

“I’ve never considered myself disabled,” says Niamh. “I am just a bit smaller but I am in proportion, whereas with most other conditions, a person might not be in proportion so there isn’t really a name for what I have.

“I could have let it be a challenge in my life but you just have to get on with it.

“If you can’t reach something, you don’t wait for someone to come along and get it for you. You grab a chair.

“The only physical issues I deal with is that I have slightly less flexible shoulders, which is common among those of short stature anyway. I have Lordosis, which is curvature of the spine so if I am sore, it has probably originated in my back.” It makes her achievements all the more remarkable.

 

Tomiwa Badun

Tomiwa Badun, Ireland, celebrates after scoring a goal against Portugal
Tomiwa Badun, Ireland, celebrates after scoring a goal against Portugal

Event: Football 7-a-side

DOB: 07/05/1997

Hometown:  Dundalk, Louth

Tomiwa Badun, from Dundalk, is an outstanding footballer. He made his debut at the age of 16 and has since then gone on to become an integral part of Ireland’s 7-a side. He is a strong character on the pitch who inspires his team mates to play better. He is a very popular member of the team and has proved his mettle again and again with some crucial goals for his team.

Swimmer James Scully
Swimmer James Scully

James Scully

Event: Swimming

Classification: S5, SB5, SM5

DOB: 08/04/1993

Hometown: Ratoath, Meath

Disability Group: Les Autres

With a 2013 World Championships bronze already to his name and with Rio set to be James’s second Paralympic Games he is already a veteran. James Scully began is swimming Career in 2006 out of the National Aquatic Centre where he came under the tutelage of triple Paralympic medallist and current Paralympics Ireland Performance Director, Dave Malone. James has made steady progress since claiming medals at the Para-Swimming European Championships in the 200m Freestyle event. James is hoping to do one better in Rio this year and has set his sights on gold.

 

The Hidden Hearing Heroes Awards were established in 2011 to honour those who have made a significant contribution to Irish society, their community, workplace, family or through sporting excellence.

This year the awards will be hosted by RTE’s Mary Kennedy at a gala lunch on Monday 5th September in the DoubleTree by Hilton – Burlington Road, Dublin. Nominate a friend, co-worker or family member and they could become one of Ireland’s newest Hidden Heroes.

Hidden Hearing is Ireland’s leading private provider of hearing care solution, with a national network of over seventy-five branches and clinics. You can make an appointment for a free hearing test and talk to our audiologists about any problems you are experiencing with your hearing. We have a fantastic range of the newest digital hearing aids for you to try, including invisible hearing aids that no one will know you are wearing.

 

Sponsored by: Hidden Hearing

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