Special Olympics: Team Ireland has another memorable day as medal haul rises to 22
Kevin Doyle in Los Angeles
– 30 July 2015 06:47 AM
THERE are still three days of competition but already the party has begun for Team Ireland as the medal tally rose to 22.
With medals arriving in equestrian events and athletes supporters were split across venues in Los Angeles.
But they had pre-notice of one medal presentation as the country's oldest representative Peter Maylnn at the Special Olympics World Games collected the Bocce gold he secured on Tuesday.
Dozens of supports were joined by Irish volunteers who temporarily abandoned their posts to descend on the LA Convention Centre and create one of those moments that can't but stir emotions.
The 57-year-old lapped up the applause as olé, olé repeated broke out. The scenes that unfolded were unprecedented at these Games.
More than 50 Irish fans formed a tunnel for the Mullingar man as he left the stage to deafening cheers.
"I'm absolutely proud to be Irish. I'm thrilled and so is all of Ireland," said Miriam Callaghan from Drogheda.
Day four brought a total of seven medals for Ireland with wins in Equestrian, Athletics and Table Tennis. The overall medal haul now stands at 22 and there was also been a huge number of personal bests recorded by Team Ireland.
At the track at Loker Stadium in USC, Rachel Ryan (26) from Templemore in Tipperary was overjoyed with her gold medal winning performance in the 400 metres.
She posted a personal best time in the race.
“I’m very happy and excited, I didn’t think I was going to come first but I guess when you don’t think a thing it ends up happening. So I’m very excited," she said.
James Meenan (20) from Dundalk, Co Louth, took a bronze medal in the 200 metres.
Athletics Head Coach, Ailish Smyth, said that despite the 30 degree heat the athletics team were in top form.
"I cannot believe they are running out of their skin and achieving personal bests. It's excellent. James ran fantastic at super speed. It’s so thrilling to see them all in action," she said.
Across LA at the Equestrian Centre in Griffith Park, Team Ireland enjoyed a hugely successful day with four medals.
Dearbhail Savage (15) from Mowhan, Co Armagh took gold in her section of the competition, while 37-year-old Elizabeth Mair from Rathfarnham, Dublin also put in a gold medal winning performance Thomas Connolly (38) from Coolaney, Co Sligo won a silver medal and John Deevy (38) from Kilmeadan, Co Waterford claimed a bronze medal.
The day was rounded off by Frances Power (52) from Navan, Co Meath who put in a huge performance to win a gold medal in the singles section of the Table Tennis competition.
Matt English, CEO Special Olympics Ireland said: "The level of personal bests and medals has been utterly fantastic. The travelling Irish support at each and every venue is also immense and I know our athletes are benefitting from all the cheers and goodwill on display.”
The team also received a good luck message from Sports Minister Michael Ring who said: “Winning a gold or any medal for your country at a world games is a tremendous achievement and I want to congratulate all of the athletes on their success so far.
"I am sure their family, friends and supporters are delighted and I want to add my voice to all those who are wishing them well and willing the rest of the team on."
Ireland has 88 athletes taking part with the focus today moving to long beach for the kayaking and open sea swimming competitions.