SHE’D MADE THE walk countless times before.
The roadside from Lifford to her home in St Johnston were nothing new to Bridie Lynch one autumn evening in 1992.
She got off a bus in Lifford after returning to Donegal from Dublin, but this time was different.
Picture caption: Bridie Lynch after being honoured by Paralympics Ireland in 2013.
Included on her person were two Paralympic silver medals.
To this day, Lynch remains one of Donegal’s finest athletes of all time. Modesty was always a trait associated with her. That evening in 1992 after coming back from Barcelona, she thumbed a lift back to the family home in Maymore, on the outskirts of St Johnston.
There was little fanfare. In the weeks previously, she won silver in the B3 discus throw, with gold won by Tamara Sivakova and bronze taken by Ilona Thomas from Germany.
Lynch also won silver in the Pentathlon, but the achievement was largely consigned to the sidebars of the local papers of the time. Two Paralympic silver medals became mere footnotes.
Four years later, though, she had no need to thumb it home.
Having returned form the 1996 Paralympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia, Lynch was greeted by a large crowd at Lifford Bridge and given a heroic cavalcade home to St Johnston, where a reception was held at Maggie’s Tavern.
In Atlanta, Lynch won gold in the discus and bronze in the shot. She carried the Irish tricolour at the closing ceremony and led home the team that was met at Dublin Airport by the President, Mary Robinson.
She won the discus ahead of Courtney Knight from Canada and Tamara Sivakova Belarus, while she was behind only Sivakova in the shot.
“I had the honour of coaching Bridie from 1992 to 2000,” says Eamon Harvey, who was a coach to the Irish athletics team at the 1996 Olympics and stayed on in Atlanta for the Paralympics.
“She was a very reserved and incredible athlete who was recognised at World Paralympic level as one of the great throws athletes. Bridie was a trail blazer and a role model for the current group of Irish Paralympians who are competing at world level.”[adrotate group=”82″]
Before the Paralympics in 2000 in Syndey, Lynch, who won the European Championships in 1999 – 16 years after first representing Ireland, when she took discus bronze at the 1983 Europeans in Varna, Bulgaria – was described as ‘Ireland’s best hope of a gold medal’ and had been Blind Sports World Champion in 1998.
Just two days before the Games began in Sydney, Lynch got injured when a discus rebounded from the cage and broke a bone in her foot.
Bridie Lynch still holds the Donegal discus record through her 42.38-metre throw at Santry in 1998Tags: