Belfast Telegraph

Things looking up for Northern Ireland skiing

By Amanda Poole

Snow only falls in Northern Ireland on average 13 days every year and there’s never really enough for skiing, but that hasn’t stopped our Special Olympics hopefuls from having great success at the qualifying heats of the 2013 Winter Games.

On Saturday a teenage skier from Co Down came home with two gold medals from the Special Olympics Ireland Winter Games.

Jonathon Lyness (13) from Dollingstown was one of nine athletes from Ulster who took part in the Alpine Skiing event in Kilternan, Co Dublin.

His success echoed the hit movie Cool Runnings, where the Jamaican bobsleigh team — from another land where snow is a rarity — made a heroic effort at the 1988 Winter Olympics.

The Ceara School pupil, who trains at the Ski-Ability Club’s dry slopes in Craigavon, came first in both of his events — Alpine Novice Slalom and Alpine Novice Giant Slalom.

Jonathon and the eight other Ulster athletes who competed on Saturday are now in with a chance of joining Team Ireland, which will head to the 10th Special Olympics World Winter Games in South Korea next year.

Maurice Lyness told the Belfast Telegraph the whole family is delighted with his son’s sporting achievements. “I’m so proud of Jonathon,” Mr Lyness said.

“We are all delighted he has done so well.

“He is a bit of showman and loves singing and dancing, as well as his skiing.

“He won both of his races and now has to wait until Thursday to find out if he will be going to South Korea. There is a limited number of places to Korea in January, so we will just have to wait and see what the selection process brings.”

Once selected, Team Ireland will begin preparations for the South Korea Games to be held from January 26 to February 6, 2013.

The 10th Special Olympics World Winter Games will bring together 3,300 of the world’s finest athletes from 112 countries across the globe.

Ahead of this, on Friday, Special Olympics Ulster is holding its annual collection day.

For information. visit www.specialolympics.ie/collectionday or call the Special Olympics Ulster office on 028 9023 9023

Background

Other Team Ulster athletes to enjoy success:

  • Sean McCartan (11) from Carryduff, Co Down, who won gold in Intermediate Slalom and Giant Slalom, Division 1.
  • Ryan Hill (34) from Richhill, Co Armagh, won gold in Intermediate Giant Slalom and Intermediate Slalom, Division 2.
  • Lucy Best (20) from Lisburn won gold in Intermediate Giant Slalom, Division 2 and Intermediate Slalom, Division 3.
  • Rosalind Connolly (17) from Portadown won silver in Novice Slalom and Novice Giant Slalom, Division 3.
  • Rachel McCann (17) from Belfast won silver in Novice Slalom, Division 1 and bronze in the Novice Giant Slalom, Division 1.
  • Mark McCann (15) from Belfast came fourth in the Novice Giant Slalom, Division 1.
  • Janet Webb (29) from Kilmore, Co Antrim, came fourth in the Novice Giant Slalom, Division 2
  • Cyril Walker (41) came fourth in the Intermediate Giant Slalom and Giant Slalom, Division 3.

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