Success for Ireland's Para-Athletes at IPC Athletics Europeans
TWO gold, one silver & two bronze medals plus World & European records concludes successful IPC Athletics Europeans for Ireland
As the final day of the IPC (International Paralympic Committe) Athletics European Championships drew to a close in Grosseto, Italy this evening, it was certainly a time of celebration for the Irish para-athletics squad who will be returning home to Dublin Airport on Friday night with two gold, one silver and two bronze medals along with a new World Record, a new European Record and a number of Personal Best times and distances.
“It has been a wonderful championships for the team,” Para-Athletics Team Manager James Nolan reflected.
“To travel out with eight athletes - a mixture of established and development athletes - and to return with five podium finishes is exceptional. The manner in which they achieved the performances was even more impressive - the composure, confidence and execution were very enjoyable to observe.
“Looking ahead to Rio, it is going to be exciting and challenging. There is a lot of competition for selection and with the continued support of Sport Ireland, the IIS and Allianz, this team will make a big impact in Rio and beyond.”
Indeed, after what has truly been an action-packed week, which saw Deirdre Mongan get the medal winning underway on the first day, Saturday, June 11, when she won bronze in the F53/54 Shot Put final, the squad will certainly have a lot to reflect on when they return home to the Emerald Isle.
“It feels brilliant to be coming home with a bronze medal,” Mongan stated.
“It was great to get in a good performance in a major competition so close to Rio. I wasn’t too nervous going into the event, as training has been going really well the last few weeks.
“I was happy with how it went, but I would have loved to have thrown a Personal Best distance. My next hope now is to get selected on the Irish team going to Rio,” she added. "Thanks to my coaches and all the support staff, my husband and family for everything - I couldn't do any of this without their support."
The second day brought even more success as Noelle Lenihan struck gold in the F38 Discus final with an incredible throw of 32.14m to set a new World Record.
Speaking about her performance, the talented 16-year-old stated: “I was overjoyed and very proud to secure a gold European medal and to represent my country on the international stage once again.
Talented teen Noelle Lenihan set a new World Record in the F38 Discus final
“This was only my second international competition and I was very proud to be there. I wasn’t nervous leading up to, or during, my competition as I am just doing what I love to do and you have to enjoy yourself doing it.
"I was pleased that I extended my World Record as it was my best international performance previously and just shows that I am improving and the hard work is paying off.
“I am going to keep training hard and also vary my competitions throughout the summer to build up my experience and confidence."
Conor McIlveen was also in action on Sunday in the final of the T38 1,500m and finished sixth in an extremely fast-paced race in a time of 4.45.89, while Dublin’s Heather Jameson received a NM (no mark) due to foul jumps in the T37 Long Jump final.
On to third day of competeition, Monday, June 13, and there was yet another gold medal to celebrate when Orla Barry placed top of the podium after an incredible throw of 31.18m in the F57 Discus final.
“I am delighted to be coming home with a gold medal and even happier to have thrown a Personal Best,” the Cork athlete stated.
“To be over 31m is massive for me and a great boost for my confidence for the months ahead.
“I felt great going into my competition, I didn’t feel nervous because my preparations had been going well and I was happy with how training was going. I’m going to go home now and plan the next few months out with my coaches and hopefully get to Rio where I’d aim to throw even better,” she continued.
“I have a great team of people behind me – Pat Furlong, Dave Sweeney, Tom Comyns, Paralympics Ireland and Sport Ireland, who all help me get to where I want to be.”
Next up, it was the turn of Niamh McCarthy and Greta Streimikyte who both competed on the fifth day of the tournament and added yet more medals to Ireland’s collection.
Niamh was first up in the F40/41 Discus final and absolutely smashed her Personal Best distance to set a new European Record and claim a silver medal with a distance of 27.05m.
“I am thrilled to be coming home with a silver medal from my very first European Championships," she said.
Niamh McCarthy set a new European Record in the F40/41 Discus final
"I narrowly missed out on a gold medal due to it being a combined event, but I am still ranked 1st in Europe in my classification which is all that matters to me.
“My competition day was exactly as expected and everything went to plan.
“It feels amazing to have broken the European record again and although my goal was to PB, I never imagined I would extend it so much."
Meanwhile, Greta Streimikyte – who was making her debut for Ireland at a major championships – was competing in the T13 1,500m final and raced extremely well in a tough field to win bronze in a time of 4.54.25.
"I am so happy with my achievement and receiving a bronze medal as well as standing on the podium for the very first time!" Greta said.
"Before the competition it was all about preparing and focusing on the race. I was nervous and excited at the same time as it was my first time racing for Ireland at a major Championships.
"It was a brilliant opportunity to compete against top athletes, and it was an amazing feeling to be competing for Ireland and I was really, really proud and happy to be wearing a green vest on the start line. I'm going to keep focusing on training for the next few months, and thanks must go to my friends, family, coach Enda Fitzpatrick, Eimear O'Brien and Paralympics Ireland for all of their support."
Finally, on Thursday, June 16, saw some more solid performances from the squad. This time it was another newcomer Conor McIlveen who was flying the flag high, running a fantastic new PB time of 2.13.37 in the T38 800m final to place fourth.
Lorraine Regan was last up for the Irish on Thursday evening in the F56 Javelin final and threw a distance of 16.16m to place fifth in an extremely competitive event to finish off a hugely successful Championships for the Irish.