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Gold rush unstoppable as Irish score two double victories

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IT was double gold for our
Paralympians yesterday. Both
cyclist Mark Rohan, pictured on
the left being congratulated,
and sprinter Jason Smyth, took
home their second gold medal
and in doing so notched up
further victories for the hugely
successful Irish team.

IT was double gold for our Paralympians yesterday. Both cyclist Mark Rohan, pictured on the left being congratulated, and sprinter Jason Smyth, took home their second gold medal and in doing so notched up further victories for the hugely successful Irish team.

cyclist Mark Rohan

cyclist Mark Rohan

sprinter Jason Smyth

sprinter Jason Smyth

Relatives of Ireland's Mark Rohan,
from Ballinahown, Co Westmeath

Relatives of Ireland's Mark Rohan, from Ballinahown, Co Westmeath

/

IT was double gold for our Paralympians yesterday. Both cyclist Mark Rohan, pictured on the left being congratulated, and sprinter Jason Smyth, took home their second gold medal and in doing so notched up further victories for the hugely successful Irish team.

IT was a day for golden doubles. Two Irish Paralympians yesterday won gold -- each for the second time.

Both cyclist Mark Rohan and runner Jason Smyth -- the fastest Paralympian in the world -- took home their second gold medals and notched up further kudos for the Irish team.

The number of medals won by Irish athletes in the London games now stands at 16 -- eight gold, three silver and five bronze.

First up was Mark Rohan (31) in the individual road race finals in the morning.

The former Westmeath inter-county footballer, who was paralysed in a motorcycle accident in 2001, won gold in the time trials on Wednesday.

Yesterday, he came first in his 48km race, with just two seconds to spare against his closest opponent.

After his accident 11 years ago, Mr Rohan entered six months of rehabilitation, afterwards competing for Ireland at wheelchair basketball before moving on to handcycling in 2009.

"It's been a tough 10 years, and to end with this. . . ," he said after the race.

"I have always given 100pc to sport. Sport is sport, whether it is in an able bodied competition or a disabled competition. The emotions are the same.

"I want to promote disability sports. I want to show people that there are real opportunities out there in sport if you have a disability. I think I will get a lot of satisfaction out of that."

Last night, Jason Smyth from Derry secured Ireland's second gold of the day when he won the 200m race.

He ensured his title as the fastest Paralympian on the planet when he won the 100m and broke his own world record on Saturday.

Last night, he shattered the world record for the 200m when he convincingly won in the Olympic stadium. By winning both the 100m and 200m, he retains his titles from Beijing in 2008.

Mr Smyth, who has just 10pc of his vision, intends to return to training after the end of games and plans to get married in December.

Silver

Theirs was not the only success, however -- Catherine O'Neill took silver in the women's discus throw.

Already a world champion, this was the first Paralympic medal for the Wexford woman, who is competing in her third games.

"My plan was to relax and throw a solid distance early to put pressure on the others. I knew they had been going all week. It was baking out there and the noise in the stadium is unbearable particularly when a British athlete was in action. I just needed to stay relaxed," she said.

"I have been waiting for this for a long time.

''I lost my world record today and don't quite know how to think about that. I will enjoy the moment and look to chase that record back next year."

There were congratulations from Transport and Sports Minister Leo Varadkar following the wins.

"Mark spoke today about the hard work and preparation involved over the last months to get to this standard. His second gold medal from this Paralympics is a well-deserved reward and I hope he will always remember this special moment in his sporting career," Mr Varadkar said.

"I would also like to congratulate Catherine O'Neill on her Paralympic silver medal. Catherine is one of Team Ireland's most experienced field-athletes and her silver medal is a great success."

Today will mark the final day of competition for the Irish team at the Paralympics. It has been a very successful 11 days in London for our athletes -- just two days were without medal wins.

Irish Independent