Irish paralympics team arrives home

Mon, Sep 10, 2012, 01:00

Tears, hugs, singing, signs and a sea of green greeted the Paralympic Team arriving into Dublin Airport hall after 9pm tonight as hundreds of family, friends and supporters thronged the building.

Double gold medallist Mark Rohan was “almost speechless” and “blow away” by the attention and support on arrival.

“This is crazy I never expected this. It's just great to be home, to share the whole experience with everybody”

His best moment was to “To see the look of sheer delight and pride on people's faces “, when on the podium

Triple equestrian Helen Kearney said she was going to take it easy when she got home to Dunlavin.

The highlight of her games was the team medal to go from sixth on the first day to bronze medal, it was a “real testament to how far equestrian dressage had come” she said.

Double Gold winning Derry sprinter Jason Smyth appeared focused on Rio. With his December wedding to fiancé Elise Jordan he had “a lot of thinking and decisions” to make.

His favourite part of the games was not winning but standing at the start when his name would be called “and the place’s like you are one of the British athletes, it puts hairs on the back of your neck”.

He was most looking forward to his “own bed” and his “mum’s cooking”

The team and their 16 medals touched down in Dublin Airport at 7.50pm after their plane was delayed by more than an hour.

They were welcomed back from the London Games on behalf of the Government by Minister of State for Sport Michael Ring.

The team preferred for the public to meet them at the airport rather than at a homecoming event because they have been away from families and work for a month.

They will be honoured at a reception hosted by Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Minister for Sport Leo Varadkar at Farmleigh in the Phoenix Park on Friday. President Michael D Higgins will also hold a reception at Áras an Uachtarain on October 22nd.

The team’s final medal tally of 16 put Ireland in 19th position on the overall medal table. Ten athletes won eight gold, three silver and five bronze medals between them.

There were four athletics medals: two gold for Jason Smyth in the men’s 100m and 200m, two gold for Michael McKillop in the men’s 1500m and 800m, silver for discus thrower Catherine O’Neill and bronze for discus thrower Orla Barry.

There were five cycling medals. Two gold for Mark Rohan, a bronze for James Brown and a bronze and silver for Catherine Walsh.

In equestrian, Helen Kearney won individual silver and bronze and there was also a team bronze medal.

In swimming, Darragh McDonald ( freestyle) and Bethany Firth (backstroke) both took gold.

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