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Monday 5 December 2016

Special Olympics: Stunning victory for Team Ireland as athletes claim remarkable 37 medals in single day

1 August 2015; Team Irelands Thomas Connolly, a member of Nightriders Special Olympics Riding Club, from Coolaney, Co Sligo, with Elizabeth Mair, a member of Festina Lente Special Olympics Club, from Rathfarnham, Dublin, at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center. Special Olympics World Summer Games, Los Angeles, California, United States. Picture credit: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE
1 August 2015; Team Irelands Thomas Connolly, a member of Nightriders Special Olympics Riding Club, from Coolaney, Co Sligo, with Elizabeth Mair, a member of Festina Lente Special Olympics Club, from Rathfarnham, Dublin, at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center. Special Olympics World Summer Games, Los Angeles, California, United States. Picture credit: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE
1 August 2015; Team Irelands Nathan Finney, a member of Sporting Fingal Special Olympics, from Ballymun, Dublin, is tackled by Michael Macgurk, SO GB, during a 'Football 11-a-side' semi final at the Drake Stadium. Ireland were beaten 4-2 and will next play in the Bonze decider. Special Olympics World Summer Games, Los Angeles, California, United States. Picture credit: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE
1 August 2015; XXX riding 'Pepper' at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center. Special Olympics World Summer Games, Los Angeles, California, United States. Picture credit: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE
1 August 2015; Team Irelands Sean McDonagh, a member of Bray Lakers, from Delgany, Co Wicklow, after a 'Football 11-a-side' semi final at the Drake Stadium. Ireland were beaten 4-2 and go for a Bonze medal in their next game. Special Olympics World Summer Games, Los Angeles, California, United States. Picture credit: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE
1 August 2015; Leon Keogh, 15, Noel Delaney, 11, Robert Byrne, 4, and Wayne McDonagh, in relaxed mood after the game. Team Ireland v SO GB. 'Football 11-a-side' semi final at the Drake Stadium. Ireland were beaten 4-2 and go for a Bonze medal in their next game. Special Olympics World Summer Games, Los Angeles, California, United States. Picture credit: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE
1 August 2015; Team Irelands Dearbhail Savage, a member of Saddle and Reins Special Olympics Club, from Mowhan, Co Armagh, and the Silver Medal winner, riding 'Pepper' during the EQ Equestrian Working Trails, Division 6 final at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center. Special Olympics World Summer Games, Los Angeles, California, United States. Picture credit: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE
1 August 2015; Team Ireland’s Dearbhail Savage, a member of Saddle and Reins Special Olympics Club, from Mowhan, Co Armagh, is congratulated by her dad Michael, left, her mother Karen as she is announced as a Silver Medal winner at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center. Special Olympics World Summer Games, Los Angeles, California, United States. Picture credit: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE
1 August 2015; Team Ireland’s Dearbhail Savage, a member of Saddle and Reins Special Olympics Club, from Mowhan, Co Armagh, is congratulated by her dad Michael, left, her mother Karen as she is announced as a Silver Medal winner at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center. Special Olympics World Summer Games, Los Angeles, California, United States. Picture credit: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE

IRELAND has had its most successful day ever at the Special Olympics World Games, claiming 37 medals.

On a remarkable day in Los Angeles the team collected more medals that they did in the previous five days of competition.

There were medal and merit ribbon wins for athletes from Antrim, Carlow, Cork, Dublin, Galway, Kerry, Kildare, Louth, Mayo, Meath, Tipperary, Tyrone, Waterford, Westmeath and Wexford.

The overall medal haul now stands at 70.

Once again it was the gymnasts who lead the way picking up four gold, seven silver and three bronze at the Collins Court Wooden Centre.

Our golfers also took a massive haul of eight medals. They will be bringing one gold, five silver and two bronze back to Dublin on Tuesday.

Other medals were won in kayaking, bowling, equestrian, athletics and aquatics.

Former Olympics silver medallist Wayne McCullough, who has lived in California for the last 23 years, paid a visit to the Games to cheer on Team Ireland.

“When I heard that the Special Olympics were on in LA, I just had to come and support the guys,” he told independent.ie.

A big winner on Day Six of the Games was  Billy Kane (15) from Swords, Co Dublin who clinched silver in the floor event, gold on the pommel horse, silver on the rings, silver on the high bar, gold on the vault  and bronze in the all-round section.

His exploits were matched by his teammate Paul Keane (34) from Ferns Co Wexford who took a bronze on the pommel horse, silver on the rings, silver on the high bar, gold on the parallel bar and silver in the all-round section of gymnastics.

And 20-year-old Shauna Stewart from Coosan, Co Westmeath will be taking home a silver medal from the beam competition, a gold medal on the vault and a bronze in the all-round section.

After three days of action at Griffith Park in Los Angeles the golf competition culminated with more success.

Paul Kirrane(30) from Ennis Co. Clare and his playing partner in the alternate shot competition, 72-year-old Patrick Rutherford, won bronze.

There was a gold medal for Margaret Carr (54) from Calry, Co Sligo while both Leo O’Brien (18) from Rathdrum, Co Wicklow and Donegal man Oliver Doherty (39) took silver medals in their section of the golf.

Rosemary O’Reilly (28) from Tara, Co Meath took a silver in the Individual Skills.

Finally, there was more joy for 29-year-old Jill Connery from Scarva, Co. Armagh and her playing partner Ursula McDonnell from Belfast, who took a silver in the Level 2 Alternate Shot, while Trudy Hyland from Lough Road, Co Cork took a fourth place ribbon in the 9-hole Individual competition.

McCullough, who won silver for Ireland at Barcelona 1992, was called on to present a gold medal to James Meenan (20) from Dundalk, Co. Louth who won the 100 metre sprint.

“It was amazing to watch James win his gold medal for Team Ireland in the 100 metres; when he took off, no one was going to catch him – I’ve christened him the Junior Pocket Rocket,” said McCullough.

“It’s been great to meet James and some of the other athletics medallists, as well as the Team Ireland aquatics team and footballers today.

“Team Ireland has a huge amount of medals at the minute and I know they’re going to get more; win or lose, you’ve just got to fight until the end and I know they will do that.”

Also in athletics, there was a gold medal for Donal O’Mahoney (42) from Kilcoole, Co Wexford who took a gold medal in the Pentathlon.

On what was an incredible day of results for Team Ireland, CEO Matt English said: “The experience of coming to Los Angeles and competing on a global stage is such a huge honour and all of our athletes and coaches can be so very proud of their efforts.”

The World Games conclude today when Ireland have big hopes in basketball and soccer.

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