When Special Olympian Oisin Feery started school, he struggled to utter a single word. Now he's heading back to tell the next generation anything is possible.
When the kayak champion returns to Tullamore, Co Offaly, his inspirational message will be boosted by the two Olympic medals he will have around his neck.
A breathtaking finish saw Oisin (17) defeat Lithuanian Rolandas Kriauzlys by a hair's breadth for the gold in the 200m race. He followed that later in the day with a bronze medal in the 500m.
In Abu Dhabi, as the March sun's rays reflected off the blue sea on to a growing backdrop of glass skyscrapers, the message was less about winning and more about a movement that is transforming lives.
"It has a massive effect. It kind of gives you an attitude you can bring everywhere really, in everything you do," Oisin said.
"It kind of gives you that extra push to do different things as well... an outgoing attitude, trying new things, to experience them and learn from them."
His mum Sharron recalled that when he started school he wasn't speaking.
"He didn't like to talk in the classroom," she said.
"He was considered non-verbal as he didn't have full vocabulary at the time, but over the years and through his sport and all the intervention, Oisin has come on leaps and bounds.
"Looking at him go back to schools and give full speeches, talk in his own words in the classroom and answer questions and engage with children is amazing.
"It's testament to him and how hard he's worked."
In total, the kayakers - who included Michelle O'Keane, Deirdre O'Callaghan and Fergal Gregory - clocked up six medals yesterday.
With 20 gold medals, 22 silver and 16 bronze, Team Ireland are in a rich vein of form going into the last couple of days of competition.
Things were hotting up in every sense in the athletics. Strolling off the track after a silver in the 400m walk, Castleisland's Gary O'Sullivan noted the temperatures were "a hell of a lot different to home".
"I've never trained in this heat before," he said.
"I trained up in Dublin where it was cooler and it's warmer here - and I'm just happy it finished.
"I'm here to hopefully bring home more medals."
With a bronze in the 25m run earlier this week, Shannon Nixon wasn't shy in front of the cameras - though that wasn't always the case, dad Martin said.
"We're very lucky to have a child in the Games and very humbling because it's a fantastic event with great athletes in it," he added.