Siobhan Haughey's silver-medal-winning swimming performance at the Tokyo Olympics has been praised by her second cousin, the TD Seán Haughey, who said the family were proud of her achievements.
She became the first swimmer representing Hong Kong to win an Olympic medal when she finished second in the women's 200m freestyle final at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre on Wednesday.
Siobhan (23) is the granddaughter of the late former taoiseach Charles Haughey’s brother Seán. Both men died in 2006.
Seán Haughey described his cousin as someone who is "always happy and smiling win, lose or draw. She's a lovely girl, happy and smiling", adding she has trained in Ireland at the swimming pool in the Grand Hotel in Malahide.
Mr Haughey said Siobhan had represented Hong Kong at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro but not many picked up the connection at the time as she was unsuccessful in qualifying for the final.
“Occasionally they would be home for family occasions. They are proud of their Irish heritage, but Siobhan says she was brought up in Hong Kong so chose to represent it in the Olympics.”
Having attended Catholic schools in Hong Kong, Siobhan went to the University of Michigan as a teenager to train as a swimmer. “She made huge sacrifices to achieve her dream,” Mr Haughey said.
Her father is Darach Haughey who moved to Hong Kong to work for Deloitte 30 years ago. Her mother, Canjo, is a native of the Chinese territory.
She followed up her silver medal in that race by breaking the Asian record in the heat of the 100 metres freestyle where she finished second to Australia’s Emma McKeon.
Siobhan's sister Aisling has also represented Hong Kong at swimming and is now a physiotherapist in Beaumont Hospital.
Siobhan has praised her parents’ dedication in helping her to achieve her dream. “My parents loved swimming, and we lived in a building with a swimming pool. On the weekends, my parents would bring me and my older sister to the pool to teach us to swim,” she said some years ago.
“It came to the point where they couldn’t teach my sister anything more because she wouldn’t listen to them, so they brought her to a swimming club close by. When I was younger, I really hated swimming. Different coaches told my parents I had talent and I shouldn’t give up swimming. The more I swam, the more I realised I actually liked swimming.”