IRISH Olympic bobsleigh hero Aoife Hoey has said she was "sickened" after callous burglars broke into the family home while her parents were cheering her on at the games.
But she said she would not let the culprits spoil their celebrations of the team's achievement at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
Proud parents Josie and Nuala were supporting bobsleigh pilot Aoife and her sister Siobhan, the team's Chef De Maison, when the intruders targeted their Portarlington home.
Taking advantage of the family's widely-known absence, they ransacked the house before leaving empty-handed.
Josie and Nuala only discovered the break-in on their return home, and kept the news from their daughters for a week.
"I only found out about it on Wednesday, my Mam and Dad didn't want to worry me while I was away," Aoife said.
"I don't believe there was anything taken. It was a really unfortunate thing to happen, considering my parents have lived in Portarlington all their lives. Everybody knows them and nothing like this has happened before.
"Whoever it was would have known that they were going away and the house would be empty.
"Everybody had been excited, everyone was supporting us and maybe somebody took advantage of the situation.
"It's sickening, really. My parents are elderly and there wouldn't really have been anything to steal in the house. Maybe they thought there was money in the house. It's ridiculous.
"It's a pity my poor Mam and Dad had to return home to this. It was stress they didn't need after the Olympics, with the long flights and everything."
Aoife said the family was not letting the incident take from their success.
"My Mam and Dad have been kind of celebrities at home, so it's been nice for them," she added. "But they have been working hard on our behalf and I thing they are glad that everything is getting back to normal."
Aoife, along with teammate Claire Bergin, finished 17th after a legal wrangle that nearly prevented them from competing. Before leaving to go to Vancouver, Josie said, the "whole world knew" they were going away.
"We got home to find (the house) in disarray and ransacked," he said. "We are still straightening out but we took precautions before going out. There was a bit of damage done but nothing was taken."
Gardai are investigating the break-in.