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A rapturous reception for girl who's done us so proud

By Laurence White

Published 05/08/2015

Kirsty Devlin at the presentation ceremony last Wednesday
Kirsty Devlin at the presentation ceremony last Wednesday

You just cannot help smiling when you look at the photographs of the rapturous reception that Special Olympian Kirsty Devlin received when she returned to Belfast's Shankill Road.

Her own joy at being feted a heroine is evident for everyone to see.

If there were gold medals for the size of her smile, then she would have a clutch more to add to the two gold and two silver medals she won in Los Angeles.

And all around her people are laughing, smiling and mouthing their congratulations to the 20-year-old gymnast.

By her magnificent achievements she has brought sunshine onto the sodden streets of west Belfast.

Here is a young girl who has conquered the world of her peers in her sport and who set the tone for the whole team by winning their first gold medal of the Games.

And we know that her victories - and all the other stirring performances by the 86-strong Team Ireland - will never be tainted by suspicions of cheating.

Kirsty, like all the other competitors, was a winner before she even set foot on the plane taking her to the Games in Los Angeles.

All had overcome personal obstacles with a tenacity which is humbling and set standards for themselves which deserve the highest praise.

Looking at the photographs it is impossible to overlook the juxtaposition of Kirsty in her green Team Ireland tracksuit with the Union flag bedecked streets.

In other circumstances that could have been the catalyst for some hostility, but this was different.

Kirsty was among her own people and her achievements transcended any parochial politics.

No one cared about the colour of uniforms, it was the colour of the medals around her neck that was the focal point of every gaze.

And rightly so. Kirsty has done us all proud and the people of the Shankill gave her the welcome she deserved.

Belfast Telegraph

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