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McKillop tops off Irish haul

THE Irish Paralympic team will return to home to Dublin Airport this evening to a heroes' welcome after securing an unprecedented 16 medals at the London Games.

A simply stunning performance from Team Ireland was capped off last night when double gold medallist Michael McKillop was awarded the Whang Youn Dai Achievement Award during the spectacular closing ceremony at the Olympic Stadium.

The special award first established in Seoul in 1988 is given to the two athletes who best exemplified the spirit of the Games.

The stellar closing ceremony was a fitting conclusion to a stunning Games, the most successful in the history of the Paralympics after 2.7million people paid to watch the action.

Ireland travelled to London with the modest target of five medals but heroic displays across a number of codes saw them obliterate their target.

Double gold medal hauls for McKillop, Jason Smyth and hand-cyclist Mark Rohan coupled with Bethany Firth and Darragh McDonald's winning in the pool were the highlights of Ireland's games.

Wicklow woman Helen Kearney's three equestrian medals were a just reward for terrific performances at Greenwich.

Regrets

In the action over the weekend, Darragh McDonald just missed out on his second medal in the final of the 100m S6 freestyle, finishing fourth with a time of 1:08.92. Having won gold a week previously in the 400m, the man from Gorey was philosophical in defeat.

"I'm happy with the job. It was a good race, the field was very strong, the lads that won deserved to win I have no regrets. I gave it my all," McDonald said.

Ratoath's James Scully finished seventh in the final of the 100m S5 freestyle, while Clontarf's Ellen Keane narrowly missed out on a final place in the SB9 100m breaststroke with a personal best of 1.22.97.

At Brands Hatch, James Brown and Damien Shaw could not follow their bronze in Wednesday's time trial with a win in the race as they were forced to retire after a mechanical failure.

Katie-George Dunlevy and Sandra Fitzgerald finished fifth in the women's road race, their third fifth placed finish at these Games, while Catherine Walsh and Fran Meehan came in ninth.


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