Green was the colour of the day in Abu Dhabi as Team Ireland thrived at the World Summer Games once again, securing a total of 21 medals, including 10 golds, eight silvers and three bronzes on St Patrick’s Day, with 11 of these being awarded to Ulster athletes.
With Irish support in abundance, Ulster athletes received medals in gymnastics, athletics, tenpin bowling, equestrian and bocce. Meanwhile, the golfers teed off for their first day of competition.
Coming up trumps for Team Ireland was Donegal gymnast Patrick Quinlivan (36), who swept the board and received two gold medals and five silver medals. The Letterkenny athlete was awarded a gold medal as all-round male, as well as receiving a gold medal in the Pommel Horse event, and five silvers in floor exercise, vaulting, rings, parallel bars and horizontal bars.
Today was also an excellent day for Team Ireland’s Co. Tyrone athletes, who received medals in athletics, bocce and equestrian events. Representing Ulster on the track, Shannon Nixon (21) from Coalisland, earned a bronze medal with her performance in the 25m run. Meanwhile fellow Co. Tyrone athlete Richard Currie (23) from Dungannon claimed a gold medal in the bocce singles event, alongside team mate Matthew Brennan (35) from Ardrahan, Co. Galway; and Lee Mitchell (21) from Omagh received gold in the working trails event.
Rounding off the day with a striking success, Amy Delaney (16) from Derry~Londonderry took first place with a gold in tenpin bowling, with her fellow team mate Gemma Steele (25), from Coleraine, receiving a sixth place ribbon. Following previous success in the pool, Co. Down athlete, Emma Carlisle (23) from Ballygowan also achieved a personal best in the 200m freestyle, smashing her record by two seconds.
Shaun Cassidy, Regional Director, Special Olympics Ulster said: “There’s no better way to celebrate St Patrick’s Day than watching our Ulster athletes succeed on an international stage. From Patrick Quinlivan’s exceptional gymnastic performance, to the personal bests we are seeing from our athletes on a daily basis, we couldn’t be happier with what they have achieved.”
Once again, it was the gymnastics athletes who topped the charts with a fantastic all-round performance from Team Ireland. Representing for the females, Lisa Redmond (29), from Tomhaggard, Co. Wexford received the bronze medal for all-round athlete, after claiming a gold and silver medal in gymnastic events. Meanwhile, Kellie O’Donnell (23) from Carrick-on-Suir, Co. Tipperary was delighted to walk away with three silver medals.
Also doing Team Ireland proud were the athletics competitors Brendan Maguire (38) from Castlemartyr, Co. Cork went the distance and secured a gold medal in his 1500m run; and Gary O’Sullivan (30), Castleisland, Co. Kerry triumphed with a gold medal in the 4kg shotput event.
Further to the success of yesterday’s equestrian events, Conor Byrne (37) from Naas, Co. Kildare received gold in the working trails event, whilst Sally Duffy (19) from Dublin 24, was awarded a bronze.
The stands were a sea of green as supporters for Team Ireland came out in force to celebrate St Patrick’s Day. Karen Coventry, Director of Sport for Special Olympics Ireland said: “The support for Team Ireland has been amazing today. Our athletes are competing in front of stands crowded with supporters all in green and it’s a huge confidence boost for them.
“Support is coming not only from the hundreds of family and friends that have travelled from Ireland but also the local Irish community based in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, who are also here today to cheer on Team Ireland. Even without medals, our athletes are getting the winners’ support they deserve. It’s so heart-warming to witness.”
The World Summer Games runs until 21 March 2019. Team Ireland are competing in 12 Olympic-style sports, representing 24 counties across Ireland.