Monday 23 April 2018

Five athletes who could become Ireland's newest sporting heroes at the Paralympics

Will Slattery

Will Slattery

The Paralympics kicks off tonight with the opening ceremony in Rio and the Irish team will have medals in their sights.

16 medals were won in London four years ago, including eight golds, with a whole host of new sporting heroes emerging.

Paralympians like sprinter Jason Smyth and middle distance runner Michael McKillop are widely celebrated for their achievements but here are five other athletes who could be the next set of household names by the end of this month.

Ellen Keane - swimmer


21-year-old Ellen Keane is being tipped for greatness in Rio after making three Paralympic finals in London. The Dubliner has become one of Ireland's most recognisable Paralympians - she features heavily in the promotional videos for the games - and will be competing in her third Paralympics.

She will feature in four events in Rio and is expected to medal in at least one of them.

Sean Baldwin - shooting


Kildare soldier Sean Baldwin lost his leg in a car crash while on a UN mission in Liberia in 2003, but the military man has fought back to become a key part of Ireland's Paralympic team.

Baldwin competed in London in 2012, where he scored a personal best in the 50m rifle prone, and will be hoping to do even better in Rio this time.

Noelle Lenihan


Cork teenager Lenihan is another medal prospect, competing in the discuss. The 16-year-old is the current world record holder, as well as being the current European champion.

She also won a silver medal at the last world championships.

Nicole Turner


At 14, Turner is the youngest member of the Irish team, but you shouldn't underestimate her ability because of her age. The Portarlington native reached six finals at the European championships in May - winning two silver medals and a bronze - so she could definitely feature on the podium in Rio.

Eoghan Clifford


The Galway paracyclist is relatively new to the sport but won the UCI Paracycling Road World Cup in Spain last year. Clifford is a lecturer in engineering at NUIG and the 35-year-old's racing pedigree should see him figure strongly in Rio.

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