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Funding must be increased for Tokyo Paralympics - Liam Harbison

Malcolm McCausland

PARALYMPICS IRELAND chief executive Liam Harbison fears Irish Paralympic athletes may not enjoy the same success in Tokyo as they did in Rio if government funding is not increased.

Ireland's athletes came home from Brazil on Wednesday with 11 medals, including four golds from track athletes Jason Smyth and Michael McKillop as well as cyclists Eoghan Clifford and tandem stars Katie-George Dunlevy and Eve McCrystal. That compared favourably with the 16 medals won in London four-years-ago, when both Smyth and McKillop won two medals each. A double was denied them in Rio, with only the 100m included on the programme for Smyth, while McKillop had to limit himself to the 1,500m.

"Our target for these games was eight medals and, when we'd agreed that with government at the start of the year, I was apprehensive and thought it might have been a bit of a stretch," said Harbison.

"We did struggle in the early part of the games and there were a couple of days when things weren't going our way, but then we had 'Wonderful Wednesday', four medals, including two golds, and that really rebuilt the momentum in the team and, from then, we won a further four medals. To finish with 11 is really outstanding."

This year, the total allocation by the Irish Sports Council to Paralympics Ireland in 2015 was €665,000 and the four gold medallists could expect to receive funding of €40,000 each next year under the current arrangements, plus additional amounts for coaching.

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