Special Olympics: Ireland’s heroes ready to return
Una McGarry had a superb day at the Special Olympics in Athens, winning gold, silver and three bronze medals.
The Belfast gymnast, who trains at the Salto club in Lisburn, was cheered on by 20 family and friends.
Una, who also competed in the last World Games in Shanghai, China, said she was “thrilled” with her performance after months of hard work.
Team Ireland’s medal tally from yesterday stands at an excellent 15 — three gold, four silver and eight bronze.
Shaun Cassidy, Special Olympics Ulster Regional Director, was delighted with the achievements of local athletes.
“Our athletes have performed exceptionally well in Athens, with many beating personal bests and putting in impressive individual and team performances,” he explained.
“They have done us proud and they represent the courage and dedication of all our athletes, who train so hard throughout the year. I want to congratulate all our Athens athletes who have brought so much joy to all their supporters at home,” he added.
Carole Catling and Jacqueline Gault, both from Newtownabbey, yesterday won a silver medal in table tennis and a bronze in badminton respectively.
Bangor’s Martin Mahood added a 400m relay silver medal to his haul.
Joyce Haughian, from Newry, won bronze in the bowls doubles, adding to her already impressive collection at the Games.
The men's bowling team, which included Newry’s Ciaran Mallon, took gold.
Veronica Donnelly, from Newry, won bronze with the five-a-side football team.
She was also named player of the tournament.
It has been over 30 years since Team Ireland won a gold medal in five-a-side football at the Special Olympics but that long drought came to an end yesterday; the men's team triumphing in a dra
matic penalty shoot-out — Derry’s Kaelan Northey one of the scorers from the spot — against Cyprus after a 1-1 draw.
The men's 11-a-side team, which included Belfast’s Kenny Ervine, took silver after drawing their match with Great Britain.
The Special Olympics closing ceremony takes place today and Team Ireland will arrive back in Dublin tomorrow when they are assured of a heroes’ welcome.