independent

Sunday 21 April 2019

Wicklow's fab four ready to shine at world games

Aisling, Paul, Rukky and Padraig in Abu Dhabi for Special Olympics games

Coach Graham Hillick, Rukky Atiyota, Aisling Beacom, Padraig Reilly and Paul Condren will be flying the flag for Wicklow and Ireland as the Special Olympics World Summer Games get under way this week.
Coach Graham Hillick, Rukky Atiyota, Aisling Beacom, Padraig Reilly and Paul Condren will be flying the flag for Wicklow and Ireland as the Special Olympics World Summer Games get under way this week.

Myles Buchanan

Four Wicklow athletes are among the 91 Irish team members who have travelled to Abu Dhabi to compete in the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games.

Kicking off tomorrow (Thursday, March 14) and continuing until Thursday, March 21, the games will be the largest sporting and humanitarian event in the world this year. Supported by a volunteer management team of 39, the 91-strong Team Ireland will join 7,000 Special Olympics athletes from 170 countries at the Games.

Wicklow hopes will be pinned on four local competitors. Aisling Beacom (38) from Wicklow town competed in the last Special Olympics World Games in Athens in 2011, where she won a silver in the Open Water event and a bronze medal in the 500 metres. The bronze she secured was actually Ireland's first medal of the 2011 Games.

In Abu Dabi, The swimmer, who helped to set up the Blue Dolphins Special Olympics Club, will compete in the Open Water Swim for Team Ireland.

Bray man Paul Condren has been an avid football fan since a youngster so it is only fitting that the 30-year-old will be part of the Irish football side.

Another Wicklow resident hoping to 'wow' at the games is 18-year-old Rukky Atiyota from Delgany. Like Aisling Beacom, he is also a member of the Blue Dolphins Special Olympics Club, and he will be competing at his first ever World Games in basketball.

Rounding out the Wicklow athletes will be 37-year-old Padraig Reilly from Hollywood, who will represent Team Ireland in Tenpin Bowling.

Padraig was afforded a hero's welcome in Hollywood and Blessington upon his return from competing in the 2014 Special Olympics Ireland Games in Limerick, where he won a gold medal in pitch and putt.

Pam Beacom, Aisling Beacom's mother and a founding member of the Blue Dolphins Special Olympics Club, will attend the Abu Dhabi Games as a supporter rather than a member of the Irish coaching team, as in previous Games.

'It will be a little different going over to the games as a spectator and fan rather than coach but I am looking forward to it.

'I will be able to relax and am looking forward to everything. We will be over in Abu Dhabi for St Patrick's Day. I hope Ireland do well but the main thing is that the athletes enjoy themselves,' said Pam.

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