Thursday 17 October 2019

Teen Oisin helps Special Olympics team continue winning streak

Medal glory: Oisin Feery (17). PIC by Cormac Rowe/Special Olympics Ireland
Medal glory: Oisin Feery (17). PIC by Cormac Rowe/Special Olympics Ireland
Ryan Nugent

Ryan Nugent

When kayaker Oisin Feery started school, he was non-verbal - now he is going back to inspire the next generation and to let them know that anything is possible.

That was before the Special Olympic World Games happened, and when he goes back to Tullamore, Co Offaly, his message will be strengthened by the two medals he will have wrapped around his neck.

A breathtaking finish saw Oisin (17) defeat Lithuanian Rolandas Kriauzlys, and that was followed up by a bronze later in the day.

In Abu Dhabi, the message was less about the winning, and more about a movement that is transforming lives.

"It has a massive effect. It kind of gives you that extra push to do different things as well, to experience them and learn from them," Oisin said.

His mum Sharron said that when Oisin started school, he was not speaking at all.

"He didn't like to talk in the classroom, he was considered non-verbal as he didn't have full vocabulary at the time, but over the years and through his sport and all the intervention, Oisin has come on leaps and bounds," she said.

"Looking at him go back [to schools] and give full speeches, talk in his own words in the classroom and answer questions and engage with children is just amazing."

In total, the kayakers - who included Michelle O'Keane, Deirdre O'Callaghan and Fergal Gregory - clocked up six medals yesterday alone.

And with 20 gold medals, 22 silver and 16 bronze, Team Ireland are in a rich vein of form going into the last days of the competition.

With a bronze in the 25m run earlier this week, Shannon Nixon certainly wasn't shy in front of the cameras - though this had not always been the case, her dad Martin said.

"She's always been bubbly and happy-go-lucky, but I would say the attention that she gets now in the Special Olympics has really brought her on - it helps socially as much as anything else," he said. "All of these athletes are having the time of their lives, medals or no medals."

Irish Independent

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