Ulster scoops 250 medals at Special Olympics
Hard-working squad reaps impressive Dublin haul
Team Ulster athletes landed an impressive haul of 250 medals at the 2018 Special Olympics Ireland Games in Dublin.
A total of 273 Ulster athletes competed in the weekend Games against 1600 athletes from around the world.
On Saturday, Team Ulster's gymnastics squad won 15 gold, six silver and seven bronze medals in artistic gymnastics events. Among the winners were Patrick Quinlivan (36) from Letterkenny, Donegal, who claimed four gold medals; 13-year-old Sophie Carson from Donaghadee, Co Down, who claimed three bronze medals in her Ireland Games debut; and Jordan Kerr (23) from Belfast, who won three gold and one silver medal.
On Sunday, there was further medal success in rhythmic gymnastics, with Team Ulster's youngest athlete, Lucia Carrigan (10) from Belfast claiming two golds and one silver medal, while team mate Anna Joudah (15) from Belfast won one gold and two bronze medals.
Gymnast Jordan Kerr, who competed in floor, vault, rings, and parallel bars, said: "The Games have gone very well and I'm more than delighted with my medals. I'm very pleased for everyone - the whole team have been brilliant and they all did their best.
"I had to train very hard and training can be quite tense, but I enjoy it. Gymnastics is a great sport to be involved in and it's fantastic to represent Team Ulster."
Head gymnastics coach Anthony Monaghan added: "It has been a fantastic Games - the atmosphere is amazing, the crowd have been really supportive, which really helped lift the gymnasts.
"To walk away with these results makes all the hard work in the run-up to it worth it. Words can't describe how proud I am of everyone; our gymnasts, coaches, families and supporters - everyone has done Ulster proud!"
There were huge successes, too, for Team Ulster in the pool, as aquatics athletes secured 18 gold medals, seven silver and seven bronze on day two, and in athletics, with 21 gold, 15 silver and 11 bronze medals secured on Saturday.
The Team Ulster badminton squad also had an excellent Games, all four athletes claiming gold medals throughout the weekend. The squad included Sarah-Louise Rea (19), Ben Hayward (18) and Aaron Fitzpatrick (21) from Lisburn and Kealan Woods (12) from Cavan.
Willie McMillan, badminton head coach, said: "The guys have trained very hard and were well up for the challenge; three of the team play mainstream badminton and I am delighted with the standard of all of the team's badminton this weekend and I am so proud of their achievements.
"To represent their province is incredible. There has been a huge amount of support here in Dublin, the parents and families have been fantastic and Team Ulster made a big impression - and a lot of noise - this weekend."