Timetable & live updates on Irish Paralympic competitors

Updated: September 8, 2012

Timetable & live updates on Irish Paralympic competitors

CLICK HERE for Live Commentary updates on the of Irish Paralympic competitors

And so we greet the final day of Paralympics 2012. What a tournament Team Ireland have had. The Aquatic Centre and Brands Hatch were the venues for the Irish competitors today. Ellen Keane, James Scully, Darragh McDonald, Catherine Walsh & Fran Meehan, Katie-George Dunlevy & Sandra Fitzgerald, James Brown and Damien Shaw were the last of the Irish Team to compete.

In the Aquatic Centre, Ellen Keane came fourth in her heat of the 100m Breaststroke SB9. Keane, in Lane 2, came home with a time of 1:22:97, a new personal best. The final of the event was won by Khrystyna Yurchenko of Ukraine, with New Zealand placing second and Britain taking the bronze position. Darragh McDonald came through his heat of the 100m Freestyle S6 heats in second position with a time of 1:22:50. In this evening’s final, he finished in fourth position with a time of 1:08:92. China’s Xu Qing won gold with a time of 1:05:82, creating a new paralympic record. James Scully placed 7th in this evening’s 100m Freestyle S5 final with a time of 1:21:89. He went into the final having placed 2nd in his heat with a time of 1:22:50. Scully finished his 2012 games with a personal best, so all was not lost.

At Brands Hatch, the pairing of Katie-George Dunlevy & Sandra Fitzgerald came across the line in fifth position in the Individual Road Race B, with a time of 2:12:56. This was the third time in these games that the duo finished in fifth place. Catherine Walsh and Fran Meehan crossed the line in ninth place with a time of 2:13:04 while the male pairing of James Brown and Damien Shaw failed to finish the event.

And so to wrap up, Ireland have finished number 16 on the medal table out of a total of 73 countries. They will be bringing home 16 medals, eight gold, three silver and five bronze. In the field of athletics, four gold, one silver and one bronze medal was achieved. Two gold and two bronze medals were won in the road cycling events with one silver coming from the track cycling event. Two gold medals were won in the Aquatic Centre with one silver and two bronze medals coming off the back of the equestrian team. World records and personal bests also come home on the plane with our new Irish heroes. Things can only get better from here so bring on Rio 2016!

Day nine review
Sprint sensation Jason Smyth struck Gold for the second time in the London Paralympic Games as he set a new world record of 21.05 in the 200m final. Smyth stripped .38 off his previous mark to finishing ahead of Russians Alexey Labzin and Artem Loginov in second and third respectively.

Speaking after the race Smyth said; “I just tried to concentrate on what was in front of me not behind me. I crossed the line first and thats what is important. To be fair to the people here the support from the British and the Irish has been fantastic especially as it is a home games for me, I’ll never forget it. It has been a great privilege.”

As he received his Gold medal from Lord Seb Coe, the comparisons with other legends of the track had begun but Smyth was keen to point out that he was not done yet.

“To be compared to Usain Bolt who is probably the greatest athlete in the world at present is a tremendous honour. I wouldn’t call myself a Paralympic legend yet. I will look towards Rio and there is more to come from Jason Smyth yet.”

Also in action was Ray O’Dwyer in the Mens Discus competition. With only the top eight advancing, O’Dwyer threw a distance of 30.34m which was not enough to see him into the final.

Earlier in the day, one of Ireland’s most experienced field event athletes, Catherine O’Neill, won a Silver in the Women’s Discus Throw – F51/52/53 with a Seasonal Best throw of 5.66m.

The New Ross athlete could not contain her delight as she said, “My plan was to relax and throw a solid distance early to put pressure on the others. I knew they had been going all week. It was baking out there and the noise in the stadium is unbearable particularly when a British athlete was in action. I just needed to stay relaxed.”

Having competed in both the 2000 Sydney and 2008 Beijing Paralympics with a best finish of 4th in the Discus in Sydney, Catherine did not hide here relief at finally landing an elusive medal.

“I have been waiting for this for a long time. This is my third Paralympics and you cannot understand how much this means to me. I want to thank those who have supported me an stood by me.”

Eventual winner Josie Pearson threw a World Record 6.58m and the loss of her World Record was the only low point for an otherwise jubilant O’Neill but she promised to fight hard to regain her record.

“I lost my world record today and don’t quite know how to think about that. I will enjoy the moment and look to chase that record back next year.”

Head of Paralympics Ireland Athletics, James Nolan commented, “I am delighted with Catherine’s performance. Her preparation has been very professional. Catherine had a fall during her warm up and I was worried how that might impact her performance but she put that to the back of her mind and just focussed on her performance.”

Nolan also revealed the strategy behind the performance and indeed how the Wexford woman hit her targets.

“Catherine, myself and her Coach Michael Bergon identified between us that 5.65 – 5.70 would finish top three. Catherine went out and executed in her first throw. Coming into this Championship the Goal was to get Orla or Catherine on a Paralympic Games podium but for both to achieve this is beyond expectation.”

Catherine previously won gold in the Discus at the 1998 Birmingham World Championships. She also won gold in Discus and silver in the Club at the IPC World Athletic Championships in Christchurch, New Zealand in 2011. She can now add a well deserved Paralympic silver medal to an already impressive haul.


Also in the morning session, Mark Rohan stamped his authority on the Men’s H1 category in the world of Paracycling, by adding a Gold medal in the Road Race to the Gold he won in the Time Trial earlier this week. The pressure of
being the World Number 1 ranked rider spurred on Rohan, who dictated the pace of the race in the second half of the 48km event. Fankhauser, the Swiss man, took silver just 2 seconds behind Rohan. Defending Paralympic Champion Schattauer, from Austria, took Bronze a further 15 seconds back.

The ten starters in the H1 Handcycling Road Race were whittled down to six after the first lap, with all the favourites still in contention. In what became a war of attrition this bunch depleted as the laps were clocked. The cyclist were to complete 6 laps of the 8km loop.

After 36km Rohan made his move “Myself and my coach Brian Nugent had a plan before the race. I knew if I was there after four and a half laps I could take it”.

This was the longest race that Rohan has raced to date, although he clocks between 15 and 20 hours of handcycling per week.

Fankhauser raced an impressive race to stick with the Irish powerhouse, with Beijing Paralympic Champion Schauttauer (Austria) battling hard to keep on track, holding onto a respectable Bronze.

After the medal ceremony a slightly more melancholy Rohan reflected on the journey to this double gold medal.

“It has been a tough ten years, and to end with this…

“I have always given 100% to sport. Sport is sport, whether it is in an able bodied competition or a disabled competition. The emotions are the same.”

After this Rohan will take a short break where he will turn his hand at a few more sports before re-focusing on the 2016 Games. He also plans to study Sports Development.

“I want to promote disability sports. I want to show people that there are real opportunities out there in sport if you have a disability. I think I will get a lot of satisfaction out of that.”



Men’s 200m – T13
Result: 1. J Smyth (IRL) 21.05, 2. A Labzin (RUS) 21.95, 3. A Loginov (RUS)

Men’s Discus Throw – F32/33/34
Qualifiers: Top Eight Advanced to Final… 18. R O’Dwyer (IRL) 30.34

Women’s Discus Throw – F51/52/53:
Result: 1. J Pearson (GB) 6.58m, 2. C O’Neill (IRL) 5.66m, 3. Z Cole (USA)


Men’s Individual H1 Road Race
Result: 1. M Rohan (IRL) 1:53.09, 2. T Fankhauser (SUI) 1:53.11, 3. W
Schattauer (AUT) 1:53.24


Day eight review

Regretfully, Team Ireland had two competition withdrawals on medical grounds, Down’s Bethany Firth had to withdraw from this morning’s 100m Breastroke SB14 heats at the Aquatic Centre. Firth has been struggling with a shoulder injury for several days, also withdrawing from the S14 200m Freestyle on Sunday. However, securing gold in the S14 100m backstroke was an ideal way for any athlete to commence their paralympic career.

Enda Smyth was also unfortunate not to be able to compete in his Individual Time Trial C3. Smyth has been struggling of late as a result of recent injuries and the team doctor made the decision this morning to pull him from the competition. Paralympic Poster Boy, Jason Smyth eased home in a time of 21.48 in the 200m T13 heats, finishing as the fastest qualifier. Smyth is the reigning champion and his best time in this discipline is 20.49. He will compete in the 200m final tomorrow evening at the Olypmic Stadium.

Johnny Cronin was knocked out of the BC3 Mixed Individual Boccia event by Singapore’s Nurul Binte Mohammad Taha. Nurul was the stronger of the two throughout but Cronin fought hard. He trailed 6 -1 going into the fourth and final end, finally losing the game by 7 -1.

In the 200m Individual Medley SM9, Ellen Keane came in third in her heat with a time of 2:42:00. In this evening’s final, she finished with 2:42:21 on the clock. Keane was in third position on the 100m turn and with 50m left was placed third. However, she grew tired over the final 100m and finished in 7th position.

In the 50m Backstroke S5 Heats, James Scully finished in 13th position with a time of 45:27. Unfortunately, this was outside the qualifying time and Scully had to sit out this evenings final.

Back at the ExCel, the ladies team went down to Italy in the quarter finals. Eimear Breathnach faced Michela Brunelli in the first match with Brunelli winning the first set 11-6. Breathnach went 3-0 up in the second set before Brunelli clawed the game back to 6-3. The Italian went on to win the 2nd set 11-3. She also won the third set, beating the Irishwoman by 3-0.

Rena McCarron Rooney took the first three points in her game against world no. 2 Pamela Pezzutto. The Irish woman went on to take the first set, with the Italian levelling the score after the second set. Pezzutto went on to win the game after a thrilling performance from the Irishwoman. McCarron Rooney took the third team event game but Brunelli proved too strong and Italy held on to win 3-0.

At Brands Hatch this morning, following a grueling race, Cathal Miller crossed the line number fourteenth in his C4-5 Individual Road Race. Ukraine’s Yeger Dementyev came home in the gold medal position, followed by China’s Liu Xinyang on 1:55:48 and Italy’s Michele Pittacolo on 1:55:51.

Unfortunately, Colin Lynch crashed on the first lap and was listed as DNF. Luckily, he just suffered some road rash and his bicycle received some scratches. The race was eventually won by Italy, second was Germany with Australia claiming the last medal.

Over at Weymouth, John Twomey, Ian Costello and Ian Hegarty finished 11th overall in the Sonar Class. They did not get to compete in the final race, as the lack of wind lead to its cancellation. Following the announcement, Twomey said ”We’re disapointed we didn’t get to race today but it’s been a great regatta and a wonderful Paralympics”. The same man entered the record books, having competed in his 10th Paralympics. While there were some disappointed competitors today, the Irish team have done us all proud and have provided some fantastic entertainment over the past week. There is still plenty to look forward to.

Day seven review


Johnny Cronin was not successful in his bid in the BC3 Mixed Individual 1/8 Finals in the ExCeL Arena. Johnny lost out to his Singaporean competitor Nurul Binte Mohammad Taha 1-7.

He had played the same competitor in yesterday’s seeding match and had won 6-4.


Ellen Keane has placed 7th in the 200m Individual Medley Final.

The Dublin swimmer had a positive start and after the first 50m, she was in a strong 4th position. She then progressed to 3rd with 100m gone looked to be an excellent contender for the podium. Unfortunately she slipped back into 5th position after 150m and slipped further before the finish line to place her in 7th position finish with a time of 2:42:21

Ellen will be back in action on Saturday in the hope of progressing in her strongest event, the 100m Breaststroke.


It was a disappointing day for the cyclists as Enda Smyth was advised to withdraw before the event on the recommendation of his doctor.

Colin Lynch unfortunately crashed on the first corner and was listed as DNF (Did Not Finish).


Due to a lack of wind, today’s sailing was cancelled and medals have been awarded based on rankings at the end of race 10 which took place yesterday.

Therefore, Irish sailing team; John Twomey, Anthony Hegarty and Ian Costelloe finished 11th in the three person keelboat (sonar) competition in Weymouth and Portland.

The Dutch crew took 1st place, the Norwegian’s took silver and the Germans were awarded bronze

Day seven review

Mark Rohan secured Ireland’s sixth gold medal of the London2012 Paralympic Games by winning the Men’s H1 Individual Time Trial at Brands Hatch on Wednesday afternoon.

Rohan clocked a time of 35:41.54 to take the gold by a clear 11 second margin over second placed Koby Lion of Israel (35:53.30).  Austria’s Wolfgang Schattauer took the bronze with a time of 38:02.35.

Rohan commented “I am delighted with my result, there was a lot of pressure on me to perform today”.

Like all the athletes, Rohan credited his success to the strong team around him, with Coach Brian Nugent, Manager Denis Toomey and Mechanics Gerry Beggs and Terry Cromer being of crucial assistance.

Catherine Walsh and Fran Meehan took bronze in the Women’s Individual Time Trial B. The Irish duo clocked a time of 35:29.56 to secure their place on the podium.  The Netherlands pairing of Kathrin Goeken and Kim Van Dijk took gold in 35:02.73 with the New Zealand tandem featuring Phillipa Gray and Laura Thompson taking silver with a time of 35:07.68.

Despite being World Bronze Medallists in this event, the pair was not treating it as a priority event, and were not confident that the course would suit them.  However, after their rest day yesterday they were able to put in a massive effort to come away with a Bronze medal in an event won by The Netherlands, with New Zealand in second place.

Fran Meehan commented, “We have a really strong team, and I think that’s what has moved us on, we support each other, share our advice, and it means we all improve.”

This is the second medal this duo has won at the Games. Last Sunday, Walsh and Meehan secured a silver medal in the para-cycling individual B pursuit final at the Velodrome.

Also competing in  yesterday’s Individual Time Trial B, was Katie Dunleavy and Sandra Fitzgerald who placed fifth with a  time of 35:48.06

James Brown and Damien Shaw secured Team Ireland’s fourth bronze of the Games in the Men’s Individual Time Trial B at Brands Hatch.

The Irish tandem pair clocked a time of 31:13.00 to secure their place on the podium.  The Spanish pairing of Christian Venge and David Caldero Llaurado took gold in 30:48.25 with the Italian tandem featuring Ivano and Lucca Pizzi taking silver with a time of 30:50.41.

James Brown commented, “We are riding a new bike, we opted for power rather than aerodynamics, and it really seems to have paid off”.

Last Thursday Brown and Shaw narrowly missed out on a podium place in the Bronze medal ride off in the paracycling Individual Pursuit B competition at the Velodrome.  The pair clocked a time of 4:26.075 to finish outside the medals in fourth place behind the Spanish pair of Clemente Solano and Munoz.


Tom Leahy was  defeated by Portuguese player Abilio Valente 6-1 in the BC3 Mixed Individual competition.  Roberta (Bobbie) Connolly was defeated by Slovakian Robert Mezik 5-2 in the BC3 Mixed Individual competition.


Irish sailing team; John Twomey, Anthony Hegarty and Ian Costelloe finished 10th in the three person keelboat (sonar) race in Weymouth and Portland. In what was the 10th race of the competition, they are currently placed in 11th position overall.

In the overall standing, the Dutch crew remain in poll position with the Norwegian and Germans close behind them. The Irish crew has slipped one place from tenth to eleventh.

Day six review

Our equestrian heroes commenced proceedings this morning with the Individual Freestyle Tests.  Kilkenny born James Dwyer was first up, competing in the Grade IV division.  Dwyer finished his proceedings in sixth place upon his gelding Orlando.  Midway through the competition, the Irishman was seated in the gold medal position with a score of 74.40.  In the end, Belgian Michele George on Rainman with a score of 82.10 took home the gold.  Sophie Wells of Great Britain took the silver medal on 81.150 with the Netherlands ceasing the bronze on 78.60.  Helen Kearney participated in the Grade 1a division and superbly added a bronze medal to her collection from this year’s games.  With two riders left, Kearney was seated in the silver medal position on a score of 78.450.  It took the second last rider, Singapore’s Laurentia Tan with a score of 79.00 to push Kearney into third place.  The gold medal position was accredited to Great Britain’s Sophie Christiansen with a score of 84.750.  Afterwards, Kearney expressed her delight ”my first games and three medals, I cannot even put into words how it feels”.  Kearney’s team mate Geraldine Savage was the final member of the equestrian team to take to the arena and upon Blues Tip Top Two scored 72.30.  At one stage, Savage was seated in a medal position but finished the competition in fifth place.

Sean Baldwin competed in the Mixed R6 – 150m Air Rifle Prone Sh1 Qualifiers at the Royal Artillery Barracks this morning.  Baldwin recorded a personal best score of 585 and finished 18th out of 48th competitors.  His score was only four marks away from a qualifying score.  Despite his unfortunate proximity to a final place qualification, recording a personal best was a nice consolation prize.   Afterwards, Baldwin said that he was satisfied with a personal best and he is looking forward to his final competition, the R7 50m Rifle 3 tomorrow.

Darragh McDonald was back in the pool this morning for the heats of the 50m Freestyle S6.  McDonald came home in third place with a time of 33.15, setting a new personal best. This was enough for a place in this evening’s final, where he finished in eight position on a time of 33.26.  The gold medal went to China’s Xu Qing with a new world record of 28.57.  McDonald will participate in the 100m Freestyle S6 competition on Saturday and following this evening’s final, he commented saying ”Today was just a warm up for Saturday” in otherwords, watch this space.

Our Three Person Keelboat trio have moved up to ninth position overall in the Sonar class, following today’s race.  There was only one race today and not two as scheduled.  The first race, race 7 was postponed as a result of weather conditions and race 8 has been rescheduled for tomorrow.  Shortly after race 7 eventually commenced, it had to be abandoned as the winds dropped off.  It eventually recommenced at 2.45pm and the Irish Team pushed the winner’s, Germany, throughout the race and finished in their best position yet.  The trio come home in second place with the best performance of the games so far for Ian Costelloe, John Twomey and Anthony Hegarty.  Following the race, Twomey said ”our hope is to improve on our overall ninth place with four races remaining”.

Limerick’s James McCarthy was placed 13th in the shot put F57/58 category at the Olympic Stadium this morning, with a final throw of 10.70m.  The second time paralympian made his debut in Atlanta in 1996 where he was also placed 13th in the same competition.  Alexey Ashapatov of Russia won the gold medal with a throw of 16.20m, creating a new paralympic record.  In relation to his performance, McCarthy said ”I think in the first put, I may have had a rush of blood to the head, for the second one I needed to relax and start doing what I had been doing in training.  For the third one I just went for it and that was my best throw”.  Regardless of the result, McCarthy was delighted to be back at the paralympic games and especially happy that his family were there to support him.

Cork’s Orla Barry won bronze in the discus throw 57/58, throwing a distance of 28.12m.  Barry registered 28.12m with her first throw, putting her in the bronze medal position going into the medal throw off.  The security of her bronzed position rested with Algeria’s Nadia Medjmedj.  Thankfully, Medjmedj couldn’t register a higher score, leaving Barry to claim Ireland’s tenth medal of the games.  The gold medal was won by Algerian Nassima Saifi, throwing 40.34m with the silver medal going to Bulgaria’s Stela Eneva on 36.56m .  Ray O’Dwyer competed in the shot put F34 final this evening.  He finished in fifteenth position with a distance of 8.86m .  The gold medal winner, Azeddine  Nouiri of Morocco threw 13.10, silver went to Mohsen Kaedi of Iran with 12.94m and the bronze position went to France’s Thierry Cibone with a distance of 12.86m.

So at the end of day six, we have our tenth medal and are placed 14th on the medal table.  Another day of personal bests recorded with many more to look forward to.  Our first ever Para Equestrian Team can now relax and bask in the glory of their exploits.  Lets hope their success will help motivate the rest of Team Ireland towards paralympic success.

Paralympics 2012 Day 5 Review

Eilish Byrne was first up again this morning in the Individual Freestyle Test Grade II competition. Byrne was sitting in the bronze medal position on a score of 75.250 with one rider to go. German Angelica Trabert rode out last and finished on a super 76.115, which pushed the Louth woman into fourth position. Byrne was not disappointed and expressed her delight at finishing fourth, praising the work of her partner in crime Youri.

Ireland’s sailing trio of John Twomey, Anthony Hegarty and Ian Costelloe maintain their position in tenth place in the three person keelboat class. The first race of the day, race 5 was postponed due to weather conditions but was resumed in the afternoon. The trio placed tenth in race 5 and tenth in race 6. There are still another five races to be competed in before the final team placings will be announced.

Cork’s John McCarthy competed this evening in the 100m T51 wheelchair sprint. The third time paralympian came home in 7th position in a time of 25:53.

Antrim’s Michael McKillop completed today’s Irish participation in fine form with his second gold of the games. McKillop powered home in the T37 1500m competition. His gold medal position was six seconds ahead of silver medallist, Australia’s Brad Scott. As well has coming home in emphatic fashion, McKillop set a new paralympic record with a time of 4:08:11. And so ends the fifth day of competition and what a way to finish. Ireland’s fifth gold medal and third on the track with McKillop compounding the fact that he is the greatest paralympic middle distance runner.

“It was great to do a double here in London. When I heard that the 1500m would be on the programme here, I was thrilled as I didn’t have this opportunity in Beijing. It means so much to be able to do this.”

“I had agreed with my coach that I would work steadily until 800m and increase the pace gradually to see who would come with me. Only the Australian did so I increased the pace again. The plan worked.”

In a closely guarded secret, Michael was presented with his 1500m Gold medal by his mother Catherine who acted as ambassador from official Games sponsors P&G.

In the Men’s T51 100m final, John McCarthy finished seventh in a time of 25.53.  World record holder Toni Piispenan of Finland set a new Paralympic record time of 21.72 to take Gold with Alvise de Vidi of Italy taking Silver and Mohamed Berrahal of Algeria taking bronze.

There is still plenty to look forward to with Jason Smyth competing later in the week and the beginning of the road racing on Wednesday.

Paralympics 2012 Day 4 Review
Our mixed boccia team was the first of the Irish athletes up and about this morning with their competition commencing at 9am at the Velodrome. The team of Padraic Moran, Gabriel Shelly, Roberta Connolly and Tom Leahy lost their first match to Korea on a scoreline of 14 – 3. Their second game was against Brazil who also defeated them by 11 – 2. Unfortunately, the two losses meant that they failed to reach the quarter finals and finished their participation in this year’s Paralympics.

James Dwyer placed sixth in the Grade IV Individual Dressage Section at Greenwich Park. On his horse Orlando, he totaled 68.516 percent. The championship was won by the Belgian Michele George who scored 77.065. This evening, Wicklow’s Helen Kearney scored a terrific 76.70 percent on Mister Cool, putting her in the silver medal position and pushing Ireland’s dressage team into the bronze medal position in the team event. Geraldine Savage was also competing this afternoon, recording a personal best in the Grade 1A competition, finishing in 7th position with a score of 68.80.

Back at the Velodrome, the Individual Pursuit B Team of Catherine Walsh and Fran Meehan recorded Ireland’s fifth and first silver medal of the tournament. The Irish ladies started at a faster rate than their qualifier and at the 1km mark, were only 0.2 of a second down. Their competition, in the form of New Zealand’s Philippa Gray and Laura Thompson, upped the ante and at the 2km mark were in the lead by 1.9 seconds. Ireland crossed the line in second position, three seconds behind the New Zealand duo.

In the same competition, Katie-George Dunlevy and Sandra Fitzgerald, narrowly missed out on a place in the final, finishing in fifth position in this morning’s qualifiers. The ladies male counterparts Cathal Miller, Colin Lynch and Enda Smyth competed in the Mixed Team Spring C1-5 Qualifiers this morning. The trio were first starters and went out fast, breaking the paralympic record with a time of 56.401. They held this for several rounds but finished in eight position overall. Despite failing to qualify for the final, breaking the paralympic record was a great achievement for the trio.

The youngest member of Ireland’s paralympic team, 15 year old Heather Jameson competed in the 100m T37 heats at Olympic Park this morning. The young sprinter set a new personal best of 15:08 but this time was, unfortunately, not enough to advance to the final.

The first Irish powerlifter to represent his country in the Paralympics since the early 1960’s, Roy Guerin was placed 10th the 67.5kg category. The Kerryman lifted 131kg, creating a new Irish record. This is Roy’s third Paralympics, having recently made the transition from athletics to powerlifting.

Ireland’s Mixed Cox Fours finished in fourth position in the B Final at Eton Dorney. What a great achievement in their first ever Paralympics, finishing with a time of 3:36:72. Kevin Du Toit, Shane Ryan, Sarah Caffrey, Anne-Marie McDaid and Helen Arbuthnot finished behind Canada, France and Brazil. Unfortunately, Bethany Firth had to withdraw from the 200m Freestyle S14 due to injury.

Four days down and this team is shaping up to be the most successful Irish Paralympian team to date. Four golds, two silver, one bronze and placed 13 on the medal table. What an inspirational team!

Day 3 Review

Day three commenced similarly to day one, with Louth’s Eilish Byrne participating in the individual para equestrian dressage at Greenwich Park. Byrne did not disappoint, improving on her team test score recorded on Thursday, finishing on 73:429. This puts her in fifth position in the paralympic grade II competition. As they stand, Team Ireland is in sixth place and following tomorrow’s performance of Helen Kearney, Geraldine Savage and James Dwyer we will have a better idea of the overall team placing. The pairing of James Brown and Damien Shaw competed in the Individual Team Trial B this morning, coming in in 9th position with a time of 1.07.979. Brown and Shaw have only been together since December and were delighted to have recorded a personal best, averaging a speed of 53kmph. The duo’s main competition is the 4km pursuit and this is the race they are making their priority. Meanwhile, Cathal Miller failed to qualify for a position in the final of the 4km individual pursuit. He crossed the line in a time of 4:49:237 putting him in eight position. Gorey born Darragh McDonald got his campaign underway in the Aquatic Centre in the 400mm Freestyle S6 competition. Not only did he blow his competition out of the water with a time of 5:02:38, 26 seconds ahead of his nearest competitor, the Irishman went on to win the country’s second gold medal by a huge distance in a time of 4:55:56, beating Sweden’s Anders Olsson and Great Britain Matthew Whorwood. Teammate James Scully participated in the 200m Freestyle S5 heats this morning, working hard to finish third and advance to the final as the sixth fastest. While Scully worked hard and pulled from fourth position to overtake Brazil’s Coldoaldo Silva in his heat this morning, the final proved to be tougher and he finished in fifth position with a time of 2:53:03. While he may not have finished in a medal position, the Ratoath man was successful in recording a new personal best. Catherine O’Neill began her campaign this morning in flying fashion with a fourth place position in the women’s club competition F31/32/35. Her distance of 13.64 gained her a position in the final. O’Neill was unlucky in the final, throwing a distance of 13.05 which was not enough to put her in a medal position. O’Neill’s campaign is not over by any means, as she now looks forward to her main event, the discus. Ray O’Dwyer fell short of the mark this evening in the Javelin Throw F33/34 Final. However, O’Dwyer said that he came to the competition with the view of gaining experience. O’Dwyer will compete in the discus and shotput next week. Sean Baldwin didn’t make it out of the 10m Air Rifle Prone SH1 Qualifiers, scoring 589 out of a total of 600. Mountmellick’s Ailish Dunne finished in 13th position in the F11/12 discus final. In her maiden paralympics, Dunne was placed in 12th position following her second throw. Eton Dorney was the place to be with our mixed cox fours participating in the Repechage. Kevin Du Toit, Sarah Caffrey, Shane Ryan and Anne-Marie McDaid and Cox Helen Arbuthnot finished in fourth position with a time of 3:34:85. They can now look forward to the Final B, which takes place tomorrow. Ireland’s third gold medal and second of the day, came from the Paralympic’s Posterboy Jason Smyth. Smyth retained his 100m T13 title and recorded a new world record in the process, knocking 0.8 of a second off the world record he recorded in his heat earlier today, finishing in 10.46. Smyth crossed the line ahead of silver placed Cuba’s Luis Felipe Gutierrez and third placed, South Africa’s Jonathan Ntutu. After the race, Smyth expressed his delight and admitted that he entered the race under pressure to retain his title. Michael McKillop recorded Ireland’s third gold medal of the day, recording a new world record of 1:57:22 in the 800m T37 final. McKillop obliterated his competition, pulling away initally with Australia’s Brad Scott. Just before the bell rang, McKillop upped the ante and pulled away to own the last 300 metres, winning the gold with a four second lead to retain his 800m title.

Day 2 review of Irish Paralympians

Team Ireland had an early start this morning with Seán Baldwin competing in the R1 – 10m Air Rifle SH1 Qualifiers at the Royal Artillery Barracks at 9am.  He scored a total of 553 out of the maximum 600 points, leaving him outside of the top eight to qualify for the final.  The first time Paralympian still has three competitions to look forward to, the 10m Air Rifle Prone, 5m Prone and 50 Rifle 3 position.

James Dwyer was next up at Greenwich Park in the Team Test – Grade IV, para equestrian dressage.  Dwyer and his horse Orlando scored a total of 69.719, the fourth best scoring out of the 14 competitors.  Both Helen Kearney and Geraldine Savage, the last two remaining dressage riders, competed this afternoon.  Savage finished in fourth position in the Team Test Grade 1A on a score of 68 while Kearney put herself in an individual medal contention position, finishing third on a score of 72:235.  Kearney was Ireland’s last para equestrian athlete for the day competing with her horse Mister Cool.

In the Aquatic Centre the Irish swimmers were in flying form with Laurence McGivern shaving almost two seconds off his personal best, finishing fourth in his heat of the 100m Backstroke S9 on a time of 1:05:35.  The effort of this impressive timing may have affected McGivern later in the day as he increased his time to 1:06:11, putting him in eight position in the 100m Backstroke S9 final.

Unfortunately, Jonathan McGrath’s Paralympics have come to an end when he just missed out on a place in the 400m Freestyle S8 after finishing ninth in the heats.  However, all was not lost as McGrath recorded a personal best of 4:53:25.

Fifteen year old Bethany Firth recorded Ireland’s first gold medal in terrific style, in the 100m Backstroke S14 Final.  Firth came in on a time of 1:08:93, a fantastic 1.4 seconds faster than her qualifying time.

In the Velodrome, Catherine Walsh and Fran Meehan set a new Irish record of 1:12:864 which put them in fifth position in the Individual 1km Time Trial B Final.    In the same event, Ireland’s Katie-George Dunlevy & Sandra Fitzgerald also set a new personal best, finishing in seventh position in a time of 1:14:315.  Enda Smyth, while finishing seventh overall in the Individual Pursuit C3, knocked an impressive five seconds off his national record.  In the Individual Pursuit C2 division, Colin Lynch was heartbreakingly pipped at the post by 0.2 of a second in the bronze medal ride off.  Lynch was defeated by France’s Laurent Thirionet. The Irishman led the race up until the final moment where the experience of the 2008 Paralympic Champion pushed him over the line.

The Irish Rowing Team consisting of Kevin Du Toit, Shane Ryan, Sarah Caffrey, Anne-Marie McDaid and Helen Arbuthnot came in fifth position in the LTA Mixed 4 Heat 2.  2012 is the first time that an Irish boat has appeared at the Paralympics, with the team finishing in a time of 3:33:95.  The team now advance to the repechage on Saturday where they will contend a place in the final.

Jason Smyth blew his competition away in the 100m T13 heat, recording a new world record of 10:54.  Smyth is the current T13 100m and 200m paralympic champion and was unlucky not to qualify for this year’s Olympic Games.

In the world of athletics, John McCarthy competed in the club throw.  McCarthy who was a silver medallist in 2004 threw a distance of 20.36m which was, unfortunately, not long enough to see him advance to the final.  15 year old Heather Jameson competed in the Long Jump F37/38 Final.  She finished in seventh position but jumped a new personal best of 4.11m.  Jameson’s second jump improved her previous best by a staggering 21cm.

In the ExCel, Rena McCarron Rooney fought back following her unsuccessful day yesterday to beat Jordan’s Maha Bargouthi 10-12, 12-14, 11-7, 11-3, 11-9.  McCarron Rooney can still progress through the preliminaries if Jordan’s Bargouthi beats France’s Isabelle Lafaye Mariziou.  Eimear Breathnach on the other hand fought a hard battle against Frances Florence Sireau but found herself on the wrong side of the scoreboard, 12-14, 11-6, 5-11, 12-10, 11-3.  Philip Quinlan lost his Men’s Singles M1 Preliminary Game to Great Britain’s Robert Davies 11-6, 11-6, 11-7.

What a second day, with the first of what will hopefully be many gold medals.  Superb individual performances with both personal bests, national and world records broken.  This really is brewing up to be a fantastic Paralympics for Team Ireland.

Day 1 review of Irish Paralympians
Day one of the 2012 Paralympics proved to be a promising one for Team Ireland. First up this morning, was Louth woman Eilish Byrne with her horse Youri, competing in para equestrian dressage. Byrne achieved an impressive 67.15 and put Team Ireland in fifth position overall. The rest of the team, the first Irish Para Equestrian team to qualify for the Paralympic games, will compete on Friday.

In the Aquatic Centre, Ellen Keane gained entry to the final of the 100m butterfly S9 as one of the fastest losers. Keane achieved a personal best of 1:13:51 in her heat but was outclassed in the final and finished in 7th position. James Scully missed out on a place in the 50m freestyle S5 final, after finishing fourth in his heat, with a time of 38:18, leaving him ninth overall.

The ExCel Arena was the site of the table tennis competitions. Four Irish Paralympians were in action today. Rena McCarron Rooney was beaten by France’s Isabelle Lafaye Marziou in the table tennis singles F1-2 preliminaries and takes on Jordan’s Maha Bargouthi at 11.40am tomorrow morning. A disappointed Eimear Breathnach lost her opening match to Italy’s Pamela Pezutto in the F1-2 preliminaries and will face France’s Florence Sireau tomorrow. France’s Jean Francois Ducay defeated Philip Quinlan in his first singles game. Quinlan’s next opponent is Great Britain’s Robert Davies. Five time paralympian Ronan Rooney is out of the M2 category following defeat in his two preliminary games to France’s Vincent Boury and Slovakia’s Martin Ludrovsky.

James Brown and pilot Damien Shaw were unlucky to miss out on a medal position in the velodrome when they finished second in the Individual B Pursuit Bronze Medal Final. The Spanish team of Clemente Solano and Munoz pushed the Irish pairing to the end, with Brown and Shaw finishing in a time of 4:26:075. Enda Smyth finished in 16th position in the Men’s Individual 1km Time Trial C1-3 but recorded a new Irish record with a time of 1:13:89.

Two personal bests and a place in the bronze medal final was a successful first day for Team Ireland. Watch this space for further updates as the Paralympics progress.

Paralympics 2012 Medal Predictions: Team Ireland 6 Gold, 2 Silver and 4 Bronze forecast for Team Ireland at Paralympics.

SportsNewsIreland extends its best wishes to all the Irish team, management, officials and families participating in the 2012 Paralympic Games here in London this week and next.

Ireland has enjoyed considerable success at previous Paralympics -the Irish medal tally to date?

Ireland has competed at every Summer Paralympic Games winning 178 medals, of which 47 gold, 57 silver and 74 bronze.

Paralympics Ireland was initially set up in 1987 to be a coordinating committee for the 1988 Summer Paralympics in Seoul but is now the representative organisation for all Paralympic Games.

At the first Paralympic Games in 1960 in Rome, Ireland was one of 23 nations to enter athletes. The team finished 12th in the medals table with both of Ireland’s gold medals being won by Joan Horan. Horan won her medals in two different sports, one in archery and one in the 25 m freestyle 2 swimming event. At the next Games, hosted by Tokyo in 1964, no Irish athlete won a medal, this remains Ireland’s only Summer Paralympics with no medal winners. The most medals won by Ireland at a Paralympic Games is 65, 20 of them gold, at the 1984 Games hosted in New York and Stoke Mandeville.

At the 2008 Summer Paralympics, held in Beijing, Ireland won five medals in total, three of them gold.

So how many medals for Team Ireland at the London 2012 Paralympics?

SportsNewsIreland believes that Team Ireland will actually exceed all supporters expectations and not only improve upon their medal tally from Beijing but also exceed Paralympics Ireland’s own targets and those of bookies like Ladbrokes.
We fully appreciate – and accept – that more countries are here and many more are better funded teams than at any previous Games and of course that includes the Host nation, but one should not underestimate this Irish team nor their supporters.

With more than two thirds of the Olympic Stadium and other arenas being Team GB supporters this will obviously give great encouragement to the host nation’s athletes to continue where their Olympic competitors
left off almost three weeks ago. The tremendous warmth of the support for the Irish athletes at the Olympics will continue here due to the numbers of Irish fans visiting London plus the large local population who are either Irish or of Irish descent.
As we also saw at the Olympics, here again the British fans are more than likely to support Irish athletes in events where none of their own is involved.

But though this is by no means Ireland’s largest team it is the best prepared , and best funded Irish team too though much of that funding has been contributed by clubs, associations and families as well as by the athletes inc those who are part of the Paralympics family though not qualified for
London 2012 and through a variety of fundraising activities.

Let us also remember that though Team Ireland has but 49 competitors the team contains no less than five World champions and two reigning Paralympic titleholders.


Jason Smyth: T13 100m & 200m

Michael McKillop : T37 800m


Michael McKillop: T37 800m & 1500m

Catherine O’Neill: F51 Discus

Mark Rohan: H1 Time Trial & Road Race
Catherine Walsh & Fran Meehan: 3km Female Tandem Pursuit

Colin Lynch: C2 Road Time Trial

The administrative side too has , since its reorganisation, been even better organised and less likely to become involved in the type of controversies that caused such unnecessary concern to Olympic athletes and supporters alike , in the immediate
run up to and indeed the aftermath of the Olympics. A ‘welcome home reception’ has been fixed by Paralympics Ireland for September 10th at Dublin Airport.

Better still there is a clear Strategic Plan documented and published on the Paralympics Ireland website for all see setting out the strategy and goals for period 2010-2014. See link at end of this article.
The online availability of such a plan should be a “compulsory requirement” for ALL Irish sporting bodies receiving public funding. The Irish Sports Council (I.S.C) has always been very good at this but many of the individual associations need to be more open and more accountable.

Far fewer disputes occur when there is an “agreed” plan that all ‘sign up’ to, athletes and their families plus supporters know what to expect. The media service from Paralympics Ireland and their external agency has also been superb in the months leading up to the Games and one fully expects that that they will be continued throughout the 12 days.

So who will be the Irish medal winners according to SportsNewsIreland ?

We believe that Jason Smyth will retain hisT13 100m & 200m provided he has fully recovered from the injuries which upset his early season preparation for Olympic qualification times. He has been going well in training. The opposition is stronger than ever so he will need to be at his very best.

Michael McKillop may well retain his T37 800m ‘crown’ and add the 1500m title too his ever growing list of accomplishments too.One slight drawback is that Friday’s 800m semi-final has been scrapped so his first race will be in Saturday evening’s final. Never ideal to have one’s first race in the final but at least it means one race less before Monday’s 1500m.

Could well be a “Super Saturday” for Team Ireland’s Smyth and McKillop.

Discus thrower Catherine O’Neill is another who has been in fine form and very likely will get a place on the podium if she hits top form.

Mark Rohan has a good chance of medalling in both the H1 Time Trial and the Road Race, one of which may be gold. The former Westmeath Gaelic Footballer has been in superb form in 2011 .

Likewise Colin Lynch in the C2 Road Time trial at Brands Hatch next week. Flag bearer, Cathal Miller may get a bronze in the 1km Time Trial, a particularly strong field here also.

One feels that Catherine Walsh and Fran Meehan could strike silver (at least) in the 3km Female tandem Pursuit at the Velodrome.

Other possible medal winners are: Orla Barry (F57 Discus), SportsNewsIreland blogger Ray O’Dwyer from Hugginstown, Co. Kilkenny (in the Javelin) and James Brown and his new sighted pilot, Damien Shaw will be there or thereabouts in another of the cycling events, the 1km individual pursuit.

James has taken part in three Paralympics across Summer and Winter Games , having represented Great Britain in Ski and Biathlon – at 47 is one of the most experienced of the Irish team.

Though they may not win medals here in London, also take note of the young swimmers, Clontarf’s Ellen Keane (17) and 15 years old Seaford, Co Down’s Bethany Firth as well as 18 yrs old Darragh McDonald from Gorey . Surely a trio set for Rio four years hence and it would not be a huge surprise if one or other of them should get bronze here in London town.

The Sailing and Equestrian teams should also acquit themselves well and overall one expects that this will be a Games to remember for Ireland though of course let us not forget that the competition will be the toughest yet.

So predictions:

Gold: Jason Smyth (2), Michael McKillop (2), Mark Rohan (1) Colin Lynch (1)
Silver: Fran Meehan/Catherine Walsh (1), Mark Rohan (1)
Bronze: Orla Barry (1),James Brown/Damien Shaw(1), Ray O’Dwyer(1),Cathal Miller (1)

How do the bookies view the situation?

On the eve of the Games , Ladbrokes offered 5/4 that Team Ireland will achieve a medal haul of ten or more podium finishes.

And the bookies have admitted that they’re looking forward to paying out to patriotic punters should Ireland achieve the historic medal landmark.

Hayley O’Connor of Ladbrokes said: “Confidence is sky high for our Paralympians and we’re keen to share the excitement. A rush of medals would be costly for the bookies but we’ll be more than happy to be pay out on this market.

“At 5/4 we think it’s more than possible that Team Ireland can bring home twice as many medals as Beijing.”

Ireland claimed five medals in China in 2008, with three golds, a silver and a bronze. Punters expecting a similar showing from Team Ireland can back less than seven medals at 5/4.

Team Ireland Medal Haul in London 2012 Paralympic Games -
5/4 Under 7 medals
7/2 7 – 9 medals
5/4 Over 9 medals

As for the Paralympics Ireland 5 years Strategy plan you can find this here when time permits. Well thought out, nicely presented and thus clear to athletes, families and supporters alike as to what they intend to achieve and in what timescale.

Paralympics Ireland’s Strategy 2010-2014 : http://www.paralympics.ie/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/2010-2014StrategicPlan.pdf

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