herald

Wednesday 7 December 2016

Special Olympics athletes 'aching with pride' at homecoming

The Special Olympics celebrations continued into the early hours in every corner of the country after the arrival home of Team Ireland with more than 80 medals.

From Antrim and Armagh down to Kerry and Cork, and from Clare and Galway to Wicklow and Dublin, as well as everywhere in between, the homecomings, toasts and singing were legendary.

Greeted

The athletes touched down in Dublin yesterday morning and were greeted in the arrivals hall of Terminal Two with a massive cheer and a chance to show off their medals.

In total, our sports heroes brandished 26 gold, 28 silver and 28 bronze medals, and many of them marked personal bests in their chosen disciplines.

At Dublin Airport today; Laura Mangan, Drumcondra (gold, Basketball)
At Dublin Airport today; Laura Mangan, Drumcondra (gold, Basketball)
Keith Butler, Walkinstown (gold 1800m swim)
Special Olympics athletes' homecoming

There were massive crowds at Dublin Airport who cheered loudly as the athletes passed through the gates.

Elsewhere around the country, champagne corks popped as athletes made their way home for the first time since their days in the Los Angeles sun.

Ireland's 88 stars competed in aquatics, athletics, badminton, basketball, bocce, bowling, equestrian, football, golf, gymnastics, kayaking and table tennis.

One hero who made his way back up to Letterkenny in Co Donegal was Patrick Quinlivan who collected an incredible four medals for his endeavours at gymnastics.

The 33-year-old won a silver medal in Vault and three bronze medals in the Horizontal Bar, Rings and Parallel Bars.

He also received three fourth place ribbons in the Male Rings, Male Parallel Bars, Male Vault and Male Horizontal Bar.

"I'm aching with pride. I'm definitely proud to be an Irishman," he said.

Laura Mangan (29), from Drumcondra, proudly showed off her gold medal she won at basketball.

"It was a fantastic experience," she beamed. "We worked hard and I never thought I'd win a medal, never mind a gold, so I'm absolutely delighted."

Megan Reynolds (20), from Blackrock, was also brandishing gold for her basketball performance.

Celebrations

"I got a basket in the games too so it's very special," she said as the preparations for the Dublin celebrations with the Blackrock Fliers team were getting under way.

Keith Butler (23), from Walkinstown, was a gold winner in aquatics.

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