Donegal’s Team Ulster athletes were welcomed back to their home county yesterday evening for a great celebration of their success in the Special Olympics Ireland Games.
Athletes from Donegal returned home with a haul of 59 medals and memories galore from the 2018 games in Dublin last weekend.
A homecoming function was held on Tuesday at The Vestry in Letterkenny to honour the athletes’ achievements. Proud families, coaches, friends and public representatives gathered to cheer on their winners.
Sportspersons from clubs across the county earned medals, fourth and fifth place finishes, participation ribbons and personal bests in a wide range of sports, including athletics, gymnastics, football, basketball, bocce, 10 pin bowling, equestrian and motor activities.
Team Ulster’s gymnasts blazed a trail at the Games, securing 19 gold, 7 silver and 9 bronze medals. Amongst the winners was Patrick Quinlivan, 36, from Letterkenny, Donegal, who claimed four gold medals and Meg Carr, 17, also from Letterkenny, who won two gold and one silver medal.
Other notable achievements were the North West Special Olympics Club ladies basketball team making history as the first Team Ulster ladies squad to win a gold medal.
Ronan O Corbain, Peter Doogan and Patrick Gallagher from the Errigal Sports and Social Club won 2 Golds, 1 Silver and 2 Bronze in the Bocce.
Little Angels pupil Paul McFadden earned a special achievement Gala Fair Play award for his outstanding sportsmanship.
Seamus Campbell, Regional Development Officer with Special Olympics Ulster, congratulated all athletes, families and volunteers on their hard work.
Mick Quinlivan of the Team Ulster committee and The Vestry Cairde le Cheile, commended the athletes who achieved victories and those who were brave in their attempts.
“This function shows the esteem that all you athletes are held in,” Mr Quinlivan said.
President of the Letterkenny Chamber Leonard Wasson celebrated Donegal’s medal wins and said: “I think for every athlete to represent not only their town, but their county and province, is a very proud moment. It’s also a proud moment for the family. The amount of work a dedication that goes into training and preparing is unbelievable. To see so many medals here tonight is great.”
Letterkenny Mayor Ian McGarvey congratulated the athletes and volunteers who contribute to the wellbeing of people in the county and to inclusion and equality.
“People should recognise those around them who need a bit of help and support, because it would make this county the most friendly county in Ireland, and it would become an attraction to people around the world.”
A total of 2,144 medals (959 gold, 667 silver and 518 bronze) were awarded over the course of the four-day residential Games, with countless personal bests achieved by athletes from each of the five regions – Connaught, Eastern, Leinster, Munster and Ulster.
Overall, Team Ulster came home with 384 medals. The 2018 Games were supported by 600 coaches and official delegates and 2,500 volunteers, with thousands of spectators turning out to cheer on athletes in venues across Dublin.
Selected athletes from these Games will go on to represent Team Ireland at the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Abu Dhabi.
See more pictures from the homecoming below: