Tokyo Paralympics: Meet the 29 members of Team Ireland

Ireland won four gold medals in Brazil and will hope to add to that this year

Colin Judge, Mary Fitzgerald, Orla Comerford, Jordan Lee, Jason Smyth, Greta Streimikyte, Michael McKillop and Niamh McCarthy with Paralympics Ireland staff on the flight from Dublin to Tokyo. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Team Ireland travels to the Tokyo Paralympics which begins in earnest on Wednesday, the day after the opening ceremony, hoping to eclipse the 11 medals that they brought home from Rio five years previously, albeit with fewer athletes; 29 as opposed to 48, although that can be partially explained by the fact that the country’s seven-a-side football team had 13 players.

Ireland won four gold medals in Brazil and all bar cyclist Eoghan Clifford will be in Japan. Jason Smyth will look for a fourth straight T13 100 metres gold medal, a run that dates back to Beijing (2008). He is a phenomenon. Michael McKillop won the 1,500 metres, a fourth gold medal in three Games, but has been reclassified into the T38 category, pitting him against faster runners.

Tandem cyclists, Katie-Georg Dunleavy and Eve McCrystal won gold and silver medals on the road in Rio and have since added handsomely to that collection in World Championships. Niamh McCarthy claimed silver in the discus and will be hoping to improve on that in Tokyo while Ellen Keane, competing in her fourth Paralympics like Smyth and McKillop, would like to upgrade her bronze medal.

Nicole Turner, Patrick Monahan and Orla Comerford were also in Rio while Limerick swimmer Róisín Ní Ríain, a debutant at the Paralympics is the youngest member of Team Ireland at 16-years-old. Here is Team Ireland in a little more detail.



Greta Streimikyte

Photo: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Age: 25

Club: Clonliffe Harriers

Event: 1,500 metres

Classification: T13

Born in Vilnius, Streimikyte moved to Ireland at 15-years-old and took up running at the behest of her PE teacher Sean Gallagher. One of triplets, this will be her second Paralympics after competing in Rio. She won a gold medal at the recent European Championships to go with the gold she won in Berlin (2018) and a bronze in 2016.

Jason Smyth

Photo: Dan Behr/Inpho

Age: 34

Club: Derry Track Club

Event: 100 metres

Classification: T13

The man acknowledged as the ‘Fastest Paralympian on the Planet,’ a superstar in his sport. The Derry native goes to Tokyo to defend the 100 metres title he first won at the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing and is unbeaten since, winning further gold medals in London (2012) and Rio (2016). He holds the world record (10.22), the Paralympic record (10.46) and has claimed 20 gold medals in the major championships at 100 and 200 metres.

Jordan Lee

Photo: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Age: 20

Club: Killarney Valley AC

Event: High Jump

Classification: T47

Born with amniotic band syndrome - in the womb, the umbilical cord wrapped around his left elbow, stopping the blood flow and growth - he was the first one-handed basketball player to play for Ireland when picked for the Under-15 squad before switching his attention to the High Jump following a chat with Jason Smyth. A bronze medallist at the Europeans in 2018, he finished fourth in the event earlier in the summer.

Orla Comerford

Photo: Kieran Galvin/Inpho

Age: 23

Club: Raheny Shamrocks

Event: 100 metres

Classification: T13

It will be the second Paralympics for the Howth native following her debut in Rio (2016), having at that point never competed in a major international meet. She went on to win bronze medals in the 100 and 200 metres at the European Championships in 2018. She is studying for a degree at the National College of Art and Design.

Niamh McCarthy

Photo: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Age: 27

Club: Leevale AC

Event: Discuss

Classification: F41

One of the stars in Team Ireland, she has medalled at all the major championships, starting with a bronze of the 2015 Worlds in Doha. The following year at the Paralympics in Rio she won silver and since then has gone on to win a couple of gold medals in European Championships as well as further podiums at the Worlds. She has also completed over 100 solo sky dives.

Michael McKillop

Photo: Matthew Murnaghan/Inpho

Age: 31

Club: Lagan Valley AC

Event: 1500 metres

Classification: T37

The Ballymena man will be representing Ireland at his fourth Paralympics hoping to maintain a remarkable sequence, having won gold in the 1,500 metres at Beijing (2008), London (2012) and Rio (2016) while also claiming the gold medal in the 800 metres at the first two before it was dropped from the schedule in Brazil. That’s not taking into consideration all the gold medals he won at the European and World Championships.

Mary Fitzgerald

Photo: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Age: 21

Club: Gowran AC

Event: Shot Putt

Classification: F40

The Kilkenny native will compete at her first Paralympics having earlier this summer picked up a bronze medal at the European Championship. She made her Ireland debut at the World Championships (2019) where she finished seventh. She is currently studying at University College Cork.

Patrick Monahan

Photo: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Age: 35

Club: Le Cheile Athletic Club

Event: Marathon

Classification: T54

A road accident as a 21-year-old changed the Kildare man’s life leaving him in a wheelchair. He entered the Dublin City marathon in 2013 and came third in an event he would subsequently dominate. In 2016 he represented Ireland at the Paralymics in Rio. His father Mick refereed the 2005 All-Ireland football final between Tyrone and Kerry.


Kerrie Leonard

Age: 29

Event: Compound Women Open

The Meath native has represented Ireland at the last three World Championships and has a keen interest in horse racing and breeding thanks to her father Edward who is a former professional jockey. Coached by Jim Conroy she has competed around the world in her discipline (50 metres) including travelling to China, South Africa, America, France, Germany, Netherlands and the Czech Republic.


Patrick O’Leary

Photo: Aleksandar Djorovic/Inpho

Age: 48

Event: VL3 & KL3

Born in Cork but living in Galway, where he is a lecturer in Organic Chemistry at NUI Galway, O’Leary finished sixth in the Paralympic final in Rio (2016), the first occasion that Ireland had a representative in the sport. Fifth in the World Championships in Hungary (2019), he will compete in both kayak and a new discipline the Va’a, an outrigger canoe.


Britney Arendse

Age: 21

Event: 73kg

Born in South Africa Arendse moved to Ireland with her parents aged five and after a car accident in 2009 resulted in paraplegia, she became involved in wheelchair basketball. At a tournament in 2016 she was approached by her now coach Ken Hurley who was recruiting powerlifters for the Irish team. Within two years she has set a junior world record and gone on to claim two senior bronze medals and is in the top eight in the world rankings.


Phil Eaglesham

Photograph: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

Age: 39

Event: Air rifle standing, air rifle prone, 50m .22 prone

Classification: SH2

A former Royal Marine soldier who contracted Q fever - a disease characterised by chronic muscle weakness, fatigue, joint pain and breathing problems that also affects various organs in the body - while serving in Afghanistan (2010), he competed in Rio (2016) and then won Ireland’s first ever medal in the World Championships in Sydney (2019). He is a huge advocate for mental health awareness.

Table tennis

Colin Judge

Age: 24

Classification: M3

He missed out on the 2016 Rio Paralympics by one place and then the following year after winning Ireland’s first ever gold medal gold at the European Championships. In 2018 he was reclassified into a higher category having to play against stronger competition but demonstrated his mettle by winning his first tournament. The former St Michael’s College pupil was ranked number one in the world at under-23 level.


Barry McClements

Photo: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Age: 19

Club: Newtown Ards

Events: 100m Backstroke, 200 IM, 100m Butterfly, 400m Freestyle

Classification: S9

Born with fibular hemimelia, where part of the fibula bone is missing, his right leg was amputated above the knee at age 10 months. As a 15-year-old he claimed gold in the 400m freestyle at the Para Swimming World Series in 2017 and since then produced a series of excellent results in championships, World and European. He has just completed a diploma in Sports & Exercise Science.

Nicole Turner

Photo: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Age: 19

Club: NAC Dublin

Events: 50m Butterfly, 100m Breaststroke, 200m IM

Classification: S6

In 2016 she won three medals (two silver and a bronze) at the European Championships and, despite being just 14-years-old reached five finals at the Paralympics in Rio, where her best placing was fifth in the S6 50m butterfly. In 2018 she won silver in 50m butterfly in the European Championships in Dublin. In 2019 she won bronze in 50m butterfly at the World Championships in London. In 2021 she won medals in all four of her events at the European Championships in Madeira; silver in 50m butterfly and 100m breaststroke and bronze in 50m freestyle and 200m IM individual medley.

Róisín Ní Ríain

Photo: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Age: 16

Club: National Centre Limerick

Events: 100m Backstroke, 100m Butterfly, 100m Breaststroke, 50m & 200m Freestyle, 200m IM

Classification: S13

The transition year student from Gaelcholaiste Luimnigh is the youngest member of Team Ireland. She made her championship debut at the European Championships in Madeira in May 2021 where she won a bronze medal in the S13 backstroke in 1:09:37. She also made five other European finals and was fourth in 100m freestyle (1:02.72) and 100m breaststroke PB 1:22.37 where she was just narrowly beaten for a medal.

Patrick Flanagan

Photo: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Age: 23

Club: NAC Dublin

Events: 100m Backstroke, 400m Freestyle

Classification: S6

He grew up in Longford town sharing his time in the local swimming club with Tokyo Olympian Darragh Greene. Pipped for a medal in the 400m IM at the World Para Swimming Allianz European Championships in Dublin in 2018, he also excelled at the European Championships in Madeira earlier this year. He qualified with a degree in economics and finance from UCD, where he received an Ad Astra scholarship in June 2021.

Ellen Keane

Photo: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Age: 26

Club: NAC Dublin

Event: 100m Breaststroke, 200m IM

Classification: S9

A bronze medallist in Rio (2016), she is competing in her fourth Paralympic Games in Tokyo. She was just 13 when she debuted at Beijing (2008) and finished sixth in the 100m breaststroke final. In London (2012) she reached three finals and was fifth in the 100m butterfly. In Rio 2016 she won bronze in the SB8 100m breaststroke and reached two other finals - S9 100m butterfly and S9 100m backstroke final - and recorded lifetime bests in both.


Tamsin Addison

Age: 48

Event: Para-Dressage

Horse: Fahrenheit

Classification: Grade 5

Addison, who was born and is based in England, became the first person in the world to re-grow a bone in her upper arm (humerus) after being diagnosed with cancer when she was 21. A former event rider, she has competed for Ireland in para-dressage since 2014. She is a regular podium finisher in international competition and competes for Ireland thanks to her husband Micheál O’Donoghue from Dundalk. She works at an equine rehab yard (Radnage House Stables) which is home to 28 horses, as well as having qualifications in sports psychology and marketing.

Rosemary Gaffney

Age: 62

Horse: Werona

Event: Para-Dressage

Classification: Grade 4

She makes her Paralympic debut having been a reserve for London (2012) and Rio (2016). Two major accidents, a shattered knee, tibia and fibula (2007), and then in 2014 breaking 40 bones in her other leg following a fall, demonstrate a remarkable strength of character and one that has seen her enjoy podium finishes in several international competitions in tandem with her hose Werona, whom she’s worked with for just three years.

Katie Kerr Horan

Age: 28

Horse: Serafina T

Event: Para-Dressage

Classification: Grade 3

She has been on the Irish High Performance team since 2011, was ninth in the World Equestrian Games in 2014 and finished eighth at the European Championships in 2017. An accident as a toddler saw her spend a year in the National Rehabilitation hospital. She has a degree in Equine Business from NUI Maynooth and helps her mum, Pam, run the family business the Broomfield Equestrian centre.

Michael Murphy

Age: 24

Horse: Clever Boy

Event: Para-Dressage

Grade: 1

Murphy qualified for Tokyo on his previous horse Skjoldsgaard Hipp-vo, with whom he was 12th at the 2019 European Championships. Born in London, he first competed for Ireland in 2018 and in the last year with his new horse Clever Boy (aka Charlie) has enjoyed several first places in competition. Michael is a permanent wheelchair user, born with a rare progressive disorder called Dejerine-Sottas - a peripheral neuropathy which lessens reflexes, sensation, muscle tone and motor control.


Katie George Dunlevy and Eve McCrystal

Age: Dunlevy (39) and McCrystal (43)

Events: 1,000m time trial, 3,000m individual pursuit, road race, road time trial

Classification: B

Katie George Dunlevy and her sighted pilot Eve McCrystal have medalled consistently at World and Paralympic Games since 2014. Dunlevy, based in Crawley, West Sussex, with a background in rowing, has a visual impairment. McCrystal is one of Ireland’s best cyclists having won multiple individual titles. They won gold and silver medals in Rio and, at the last two Road World Championships, won a gold and three silver medals.

Martin Gordon and Eamonn Byrne

Photo: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Age: Gordon (36), Byrne (36)

Club: Gordon (Sligo), Byrne (Dublin Wheelers)

Events: 1,000m time trial, road race, road time trial

Classification: B

Martin Gordon, a keen golfer and rugby player, lost his sight as a 17-year-old teenager and got involved in the sport as a result of a conversation on a Mizen to Malin cycle. An in-house Garda barrister, the Sligo native teamed up with his guide, fellow Garda Eamonn Byrne, from Sundrive Cycling in 2017 and their partnership blossomed winning a silver in London (2018) at the UCI Track World Cup event in the 200 metres sprint.

Richael Timothy

Photo: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Age: 26

Club: Castlerea CC

Events: 500m time trial, 3,000m individual pursuit, road race, road time trial

Classification: C3

She played schools soccer (under-15 and under-17) for Ireland alongside current international Katie McCabe and also Gaelic football for Roscommon before she suffered an acquired brain injury. It was caused by treatment for a rare condition known as HHT (Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia) which affects veins and arteries. It left her with just 30 per cent power in her left leg. A multi-medallist in major international competitions, she will compete on the track and road.

Ronan Grimes

Photo: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Age: 31

Club: Scott-Orwell Wheelers CC

Events: 1,000m time trial, 4,000m individual pursuit, road race, road time trial

Classification: C-4

The Galway native found his way to Para-Cycling by an unorthodox root through the Irish Government’s Cycle to Work scheme. He won medals at both the World Road and Track Championships in 2019 before announcing his return to post-pandemic competition with a brilliant third placed finish at the Road World Championships in 2021.

Gary O’Reilly

Photo: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Age: 28

Club: Laois CC

Events: Road race, road time trial

Classification: HS

He broke his back in a workplace accident in 2014 and initially took part in wheelchair basketball, and rugby. A chance meeting with Irish teammate Declan Slevin saw him take up handcycling in 2017. In his first World Road Championships (WRC) in 2019 he finished sixth. This year he won bronze in the WRC Time Trial in Portugal) in June where he was also fourth in the Road Race.