herald

Monday 26 September 2016

Car thieves could ruin my dreams of Rio - paralympian

Paralympian John McCarthy outside his home in Lucan
Paralympian John McCarthy outside his home in Lucan

A disabled man has been left house-bound with his hopes of qualifying for the Rio Paralympics in jeopardy after his specially-adapted car was stolen.

John McCarthy is devastated after callous criminals broke into his Dublin home as he slept and stole his Audi A6.

The incident took place on Sunday night in the Abbeywood estate in Lucan, Co Dublin. When he woke up yesterday he found his keys had been taken and his car stolen from the driveway.

The callous incident means the Corkman cannot drive to his training sessions in Santry and Clontarf.

"I'm a wheelchair user and the car is adapted for me to drive," John told the Herald.

"I'm really restricted, I can't get to work, I can't train … I can't get out really without this car.

"I didn't hear any noise, they didn't even move anything on the kitchen table. They just lifted the keys and went. They came for the car and that was it."

John is a Paralympian champion, having won silver medal in discus at the 2004 Athens Paralympics. He had hoped to represent Ireland in the 100m and 400m wheelchair racing in Rio.

John, who broke his neck after diving into a river in 1992, also played wheelchair rugby for Ireland at European level.

The theft now means he may miss out on attending a crucial qualifier in the UK this weekend.

John had planned on getting a ferry over and driving to the venue - but now his plans are on hold.

"As a disabled person I can't just go and hire a car, they are not easily available. I can't get to training properly without the car," he said.

"You can't just go to a garage and buy one of these cars overnight. You have to get a car and get it adapted. You could be looking at weeks to get it replaced.

"I need the car … the car is my life basically. I can get taxis, but that's just not viable for those sorts of journeys. Your pocket wouldn't last too long."

The athlete now believes his chances of qualifying for the Rio Paralympics are in danger because his training schedule will be impacted.

"I train a couple of times a day, go to work a couple of days a week … this is just a huge hindrance and is going to affect my training.

Thinking

"I'll try and do training this evening, but obviously my mind is thinking about somebody being in my house while I was sleeping and taking my car.

"I also have a few competitions coming up in Switzerland and Italy. It's a really busy time to get these qualification standards for Rio."

The car is a black Audi A6 with the registration number 12-C-11586.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the gardai.

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