The Paralympic Council of Ireland, the body responsible for the development of elite Paralympic Sport in Ireland and the management of Irish representative teams at Paralympic Games and World Championships, has relaunched today as Paralympics Ireland at an event held at Bewley’s Hotel, Ballsbridge, Dublin, Ireland.
Established in 1987 as a Coordination Committee for the 1988 Seoul Paralympic Games, the organisation has evolved into its current remit to develop performance and manage all elite representative Irish Paralympic sport.
A new Paralympics Ireland logo has been designed to reflect the dynamism of Irish Paralympic Sport and the new logo will adorn all Paralympics Ireland collateral from January 2011 including the Irish team’s official London 2012 Paralympic Games performance and leisure wear.
To highlight the power of Irish Paralympic athletes to inspire others through their achievements and the journey each Paralympic athlete has taken to become an elite athlete for Ireland, Paralympics Ireland has adopted a new tagline, Inspiring Beyond Belief, which will feature prominently in all organisation messaging.
Liam Harbison, Chief Executive Officer of Paralympics Ireland, commented, “The launch of Paralympics Ireland today marks a very significant milestone in the history of the organisation. The aim of this process was to deliver a dynamic new name and logo that clearly reflect the talents and abilities of Ireland’s Paralympians and the dedication and commitment to the Paralympic movement by the Organisation. These changes have been made following a process of engagement with our Irish Paralympic athletes and our many existing and new corporate partners. We look forward to increasing awareness of Irish Paralympic Sport in the build up to London 2012 and to building on the success our athletes have delivered to date.”
RTE’s Colm Murray who has reported from every Paralympic Games since Sydney 2000 was on hand to officially launch the new name and logo. As the event’s guest speaker Murray addressed the invited guests sharing his memories and experiences of Irish Paralympic teams. A number of leading Irish Paralympians including Bray’s current Boccia World Champion Padraic Moran (BC1) and handcycling world champion Mark Rohan (HC1) from Ballinahown outside Athlone were also on hand to launch Paralympics Ireland.
John Treacy, Chief Executive of the Irish Sports Council said “The Irish Sports Council is proud of its long and successful relationship with Paralympics Ireland. It is one of the outstanding success stories of Irish sport over the past decade. Today is an important milestone in its continuing development as an ambitious, strong and independent organisation that provides excellent services and leadership to its athletes, sports and the wider community”.
A seventy strong elite panel of Irish Paralympic athletes across nine sports bidding for the London 2012 Paralympic Games was also announced at the launch event by Paralympic Performance Director, Nancy Chillingworth.
Paralympics Ireland have announced panels on an annual basis in order to ensure the focus of preparations for the London 2012 Paralympic Games prioritises the athletes most likely to represent Ireland at those Games. The athletes announced on the panel today have met the agreed performance criteria for inclusion. This panel will participate in Paralympics Ireland training camps, performance and preparation programmes this year.
The panel includes reigning 100m and 200m Paralympic Champion Jason Smyth, reigning Paralympic 800m champion Michael McKillop, current Boccia world champion, Padraic Moran, current world handcycling champion Mark Rohan, and a 14 strong soccer panel led by Luke Evans which took bronze at the European 7-a-side Football Championships in 2010.
Nancy Chillingworth, Paralympic Performance Director said: “To have seventy athletes in the running to qualify for London at this stage is extremely promising for 2012 with the strong likelihood that it will be Ireland’s largest Paralympic Team ever. These athletes now have a tough and exciting year ahead as they target qualification for the Games. They are the focus of Paralympics Ireland’s preparation plans for London and will travel to Portugal in August this year to participate in a dry run of our London 2012 holding camp. We are looking forward to working closely with them and their support teams to secure qualification for London 2012”.
Athletics (12): Jason Smyth; Michael McKillop; Orla Barry; Catherine Wayland; Rosemary Tallon; Ailish Dunne; Nadine Lattimore; Ray O’Dwyer; Garrett Culliton; Eoin Cleare; John McCarthy; Amanda Crotty
Boccia (7): Gabriel Shelly; Padraic Moran; Roberta Connolly; Jason Kearney; Johnny Cronin; Gerard O’ Grady; Jenny Garde
Cycling (11) : Cathal Miller ; Enda Smyth; Colin Lynch; Mark Rohan; Catherine Walsh; Francine Meehan; Michael Delaney; Con Collis; Andrew Fitzgerald; Pilot – TBA; Trix Schwedler
Equestrian (6): Breda Bernie; Helen Kearney; Eilish Byrne; Angela Lyons; Rosemary Gaffney; James Dwyer
Football 7-A-Side (14): Brian McGillivary; Kieran Devlin; Paul Dollard; Dara Snell; Luke Evans; Mark Jones; Joe Markey; Eric O’Flaherty; Finbarr O’Riordan; Simon L’Estrange; Gary Messett; James Naughton; Jason Moran; Padraig Leacey
Rowing (8): Kevin Du Toit; Shane Ryan; Sarah Caffrey; Katie George Dunleavey; Helen Arbuthnot; Karen Cromie; James McCarthy; Karol Doherty
Sailing (5): John Twomey; Anthony Heggarty; Ian Costelloe; Amy Kelehan; Steve Frecknall;
Swimming (5): Jonathan McGrath; James Scully; Ellen Keane; Jonathan Cummings; Stephen Campbell
Table Tennis (2): Rena McCarron Rooney; Eimear Breathnach
Michael McKillop set a new world record of 4.14.81 for the 1500m, a non-medal event, at the IPC Athletics World Championships in New Zealand yesterday. McKillop is tipped for a medal in his main event, the 800m, which takes place on Thursday.
Paralympic Sport in Ireland has gone from strength to strength in recent years. At the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games the Irish team won five medals including three track and field gold and since then further success has been recorded in athletics, soccer, rowing, cycling, boccia and swimming.
Paralympics Ireland is supported by the Irish Sports Council, the Irish Institute of Sport, Sport Northern Ireland, the Sports Institute Northern Ireland and Coaching Ireland.
Paralympics Ireland has also secured a number of high profile corporate sponsors including Renault Ireland, Cadbury, Allianz, O’Neills and OCS Ireland.