Ireland’s Special Olympics athletes did their country proud with wins in basketball, football, athletics, equestrian, gymnastics, badminton, bocce, aquatics and table tennis in this year’s World Games in Los Angeles, California.
Team Ireland’s 128 members – 88 athletes and 40 coaches and managers – celebrated a haul of 26 gold, 29 silver and 31 bronze medal
Thirty-one personal bests and 43 placement ribbons were also achieved.
Eighteen-year-old Dubliner Sarah Byrne, who won gold with her basketball teammates after beating Mexico by 19 points to 17, said she couldn’t believe it.
“It was my dream to get a gold medal,” she said. “Towards the end our defence picked up and our shooting got a bit better.”
Basketball coach Vicki Ronning said her players had blown her away.
“I am immensely proud of the girls and all the hard work they put in over the last nine months. Despite the strong competition they proved themselves to be the best,” she declared.
Kerryman Brendan O’Connell also took home gold, winning the 800 metre freestyle swimming race, while in mixed doubles badminton Amy Quinn from Bray, Co Wicklow, and her partner Brian Hooper from Gorey, Co Wicklow, also claimed victory.
The closing ceremony was held at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum with singer Carly Rae Jepsen and Paralympic gold medallist Victoria Arlen there to congratulate the athletes, the coaches and their families.
The Team Ireland CEO, Matt English, said: “Each and every member of Team Ireland has put in an extraordinary effort here in Los Angeles.”
“A huge debt of gratitude must go to the coaches and management team who have led and assisted our athletes on every step of the way. I know the people of Ireland will welcome back our athletes and give them the hero’s welcome they rightly deserve,” he stated.
Team Ireland will return to Dublin Airport’s Terminal Two around 8am on Tuesday 4 August.
Taken from U.tv