11th September 2012
It’s been a heady two weeks for Paralympic athletes and sports fans alike, with the Irish team taking home a magnificent haul of 16 medals (eight gold, three silver and five bronze) and breaking a few records along the way. It didn’t take long for the athletes to assert the fact that the Paralympics is a sporting event rather than a disability event. The Irish team, for their part, did much to drive that point home.
IMPACT has been a keen supporter of the Irish Paralympic squad. Aside from our CEC and branches donating €10,000 to the Irish team ahead of their departure for London, the union is proud to have a close association with some of the athletes.
Limerick man James McCarthy is the brother of our own Geraldine McCarthy, member of the Limerick Health branch committee and previously chair of the Limerick branch. James was placed 13th in the shot- put F57/58 category, with a final throw of 10.70m. Blogging from the opening ceremony, James reflected on his pride in wearing the green jersey, “It’s only then and when the flame is lit that you say to yourself, boy you ARE a Paralympian, you ARE elite, you ARE an ambassador for your country, you ARE the minder of this jersey for the next guy, so you damn well better respect and honour it.”
Cyclist Catherine Walsh is an IMPACT member and physiotherapist who works with the HSE in Lusk community unit in Dublin. Catherine scooped silver and bronze medals alongside pilot Fran Meehan in the women’s tandem race, an intensely physical and demanding competition.
Speaking to IMPACT’s Martina O’Leary for Work & Life magazine earlier this year, Catherine outlined her approach to training, “It’s pretty much all-consuming. I don’t do very much else between work, family and training. I try to meet up with my competitive partner Fran Meehan twice a week. I do the rest at home and also some gym work. I’m lucky to have good family support.”
Double Gold and World Champion hand cyclist Mark Rohan burned up the Brands Hatch track with blistering performances in the time trial and road race. Mark’s double win was witnessed by most of the population of his home town of Ballynahowan, County Westmeath, many of whom had traveled to London and were on hand to give their vocal support. And among their number was Mark’s proud dad (and IMPACT official) Denis Rohan.
Chief executive of Paralympics Ireland, Liam Harbison, has described this Irish squad as “the greatest Irish team ever in any sport.” We can’t (and we won’t) argue with that, and we’re very very proud to have been able to support the team. We wish the entire squad, their families and the Paralympics Ireland volunteers the very warmest of welcomes as they arrive home. They’ve made a whole nation burst with pride.