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It's a perfect 10 for Irish team as heroic Helen scoops third medal in equestrian

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Ireland's equestrian team celebrate with their bronze medals in the equestrian team championship. From left, Geraldine Savage from Dublin, Helen Kearney from Dunlavin, Co Wicklow, James Dwyer from Mooncoin, Co Kilkenny, and Eilish Byrne from Dundalk, Co Louth

Ireland's equestrian team celebrate with their bronze medals in the equestrian team championship. From left, Geraldine Savage from Dublin, Helen Kearney from Dunlavin, Co Wicklow, James Dwyer from Mooncoin, Co Kilkenny, and Eilish Byrne from Dundalk, Co Louth

Ireland's equestrian team celebrate with their bronze medals in the equestrian team championship. From left, Geraldine Savage from Dublin, Helen Kearney from Dunlavin, Co Wicklow, James Dwyer from Mooncoin, Co Kilkenny, and Eilish Byrne from Dundalk, Co Louth

AND then there were three. A young Wicklow woman yesterday bolstered her medal haul from the Paralympic games to three after success on her horse in the equestrian events.

Helen Kearney won bronze riding Mister Cool and bucked what had been a frustrating day for the Irish team.

The 23-year-old can now add the medal to the silver she won in the individual dressage and the team bronze she won with Ireland at the weekend.

And the medals kept coming last night when Orla Barry won bronze in the discus.

The Irish medal haul from these Paralympics now stands at 10 -- five gold, two silver and three bronze.

"I thought with my first throw I might not make it into the final but it ended up winning me a bronze medal.

"I don't know how that happened really but I came here to get on the podium and I am going back with a bronze medal. I am absolutely delighted," Ms Barry said.

Equestrian star Helen Kearney, who recently graduated with a commerce degree from UCD, has Friedreichs Ataxia, a degenerative neuro- muscular disorder.

On Sunday, she came second in the individual championship test which secured her a silver medal.

Scores

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The Irish equestrian team took bronze in the group event after her scores -- the first time that an Irish team has competed in a Paralympic equestrian event.

Helen started riding horses at the age of 10 and continued on despite her diagnosis.

There was disappointment elsewhere, however, as her team mate Geraldine Savage -- who occupied a medal position at one point in the same event -- was pushed down to fifth.

There was also frustration for the rest of the Irish team. In the pool yesterday evening, swimmer Darragh McDonald from Wexford failed to mirror his success of the weekend when he clinched a gold in the 400m freestyle. The Wexford teenager came in eighth in the 50m freestyle event.

In the equestrian events, James Dwyer came sixth in the freestyle test in Greenwich Park. However, he did achieve a personal best, which was praised by his coach Dara Kearney.

"James rode superbly, achieving a personal best. He gave it everything, had no wrong moves and the score speaks for itself," he said.

Meanwhile, Sean Baldwin came 18th of 48 competitors in the 50m air rifle competition. The army marksman lost his leg in a serious road accident in Liberia in 2003 which claimed the life of his colleague Sgt Derek Mooney.

It has been a remarkable journey for the athlete who started the sport when there was no Paralympic shooting in Ireland. He competes in both able-bodied and para-shooting events.


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