Belfast Telegraph

Higgins hails team's determination

President Michael D Higgins has said Ireland's medal winning Paralympians are a sign of the team's determination.

Leading tributes in the wake of four golds, the President wished all athletes every success in the upcoming competitions.

The successes were headlined by world record breaking 800m champion Michael McKillop and 100m sprinter Jason Smyth who also set a new world record.

The other two gold medallists were amputee Darragh McDonald, aged 18 and from Wexford, who won gold medal in the men's 400m freestyle swimming and the first Irish gold, 16-year-old Bethany Firth from Seaforde, Co Down, won gold a 100m backstroke division for athletes with intellectual disability.

"I want to congratulate Team Ireland athletes, Jason Smyth, Michael McKillop and Darragh McDonald on their outstanding gold medal winning performances at the London Paralympics," the President said.

"These performances, following on the earlier success of Bethany Firth on Friday, are indicative of the overall determination and preparation of our team.

"I wish all our paralympian athletes every success over the coming days."

McKillop, from Newtownabbey in Antrim, has cerebral palsy and is one of Ireland's most successful Paralympic athletes.

Smyth, from Eglinton in Derry, has only 10% vision and also competes in the 200m. He trains with USA Olympic sprinter Tyson Gay and is regarded as the world's fastest Paralympian.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny led congratulations from the political ranks, describing the team as an inspiration.

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