Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Euphoric touchdown for greatest Irish sports team ever

Irish Paralympians Jason Smyth, Mark Rohan, and Michael McKillop at Dublin Airport

They are dubbed the superhumans — and no wonder. With true heroes' grit, they defied all odds, scaled impossible heights and soared to achieve beyond their wildest dreams.

And on Monday night, exhausted but radiant, the Irish Paralympic Team — the greatest Irish sporting success story ever — arrived laden with medals to a euphoric welcome at Dublin Airport.

Hundreds turned out, with banners, flags and voices to welcome the athletes home after their unprecedented triumph in London, with 16 medals as well as world records and personal bests.

And when the superhumans themselves finally began to appear, the shouts, whoops and rapturous applause nearly lifted the roof off Terminal 1.

They knew they had made history. Their supreme efforts helped ensure that the London 2012 Paralympic Games will go down in history as the moment when people began to truly look at the ability over the disability.

Those with disabilities will never again be viewed within the same narrow confines.

Now the main things on the minds of these athletes were the simpler pleasures of life.

For Co Antrim’s Michael McKillop it was golf and shopping.

“I'm going to take a couple of weeks off now and let the body recover and rest.

“I want to spend some time doing anything other than running until my body tells me that I want to go back . I want to do some golfing and get my handicap down. I want to go shopping — anything other than running,” said McKillop, his two gold medals swinging from his neck.

Co Londonderry’s Jason Smyth said the Games had proved that if you are willing to work and make sacrifices, anything is possible.

He also has a lot to look forward to. He is getting married in December and must look for a new coach. After that, he is looking forward to training for Rio.

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