'Amazing, brilliant, exhausting!' - Team Ireland badminton star claims important victory at Special Olympics
Team Ireland continue to blaze a trail in Abu Dhabi
EVERY emotion that joy brings was on show in Abu Dhabi's Adnec centre as proud coaches, tearful parents and jubilant athletes celebrated a day they will never forget.
It began early in the morning as the tenacity and fighting spirit of Sarah Louise Rea (19) saw the badminton star come from behind to defeat a formidable Thai opponent.
And Sarah clinched what should certainly be a gold medal after four wins from four in the Middle East.
Irish athletes have secured a whopping 71 medals in athletics, equestrian, kayaking, swimming, tenpin bowling and now badminton at the Special Olympic Games in Abu Dhabi.
"Amazing, brilliant exhausting...yeah amazing," Sarah Louise exclaimed.
The Lisburn teen even managed to pull it off without her usual badminton shoes.
"I kind of left my shoes somewhere and I couldn't find where they were," she said though the replacements have now been dubbed "my lucky yellows".
A tense match-up which ebbed and flowed throughout was even too much for dad, James.
"I had to go out in the last game...I came back and the score was 9-2," then the nerves settled a little.
And her victory – along with a bronze for the men in the football – was obviously a good catalyst for the rest of the day, as they all arrived to the basketball court to cheer on the ladies in their very own gold medal match.
With a comfortable lead and the countdown ticker reaching the end of the match, that was when the tears began to flow.
The team was pushed on by the inspiring performance of Finglas, Emma Johnstone (22) – leaving her mum, Jeananne in tears at full-time.
"Well done, I'm so proud of you," she told her daughter. "I can't believe they're after winning gold, I'm so proud to be her mother."
"We'll be celebrating for the next week or so, longer...oh my god, I can't believe it."
And her daughter was even more ecstatic.
"Absolutely amazing, gold medal in Abu Dhabi World Games 2019, phenomenal."
Her teammate, Sarah Kilmartin (22) from Athlone said without the raucous Irish support in the stand "we wouldn't have been able to do our best".
"To everyone at home, thank you very much for all your support and we've done you proud," Sarah said.