Young guns recognised for their achievements

THE fastest woman in Ireland slowed down for a few hours at the weekend to accept a national award for high-achieving young people.

Ailis McSweeney, 28, from Cork, was honoured by Junior Chamber Ireland (JCI) for breaking one of the longest standing records in Irish athletics.

Michelle Carroll set the national 100-metre sprint record for women in 1978 — five years before Ailis was born — with a time of 11.43 seconds.

Her record stood for just over three decades until July 14, 2010, when Ailis ran 11.40 at an IAAF Permit meeting in Leige, Belgium.

Ailis was among seven young people honoured at JCI’s Outstanding Young Person awards ceremony held in the Grain Store, Ballymaloe, on Saturday.

The awards, sponsored by Deloitte, honour outstanding young achievers who have excelled in their respective field of expertise.

JCI Ireland’s Siobhán Duggan said: “All too often we are blind-sided by bad news and sometimes it’s difficult to see beyond it.

“But we must always remember that for every negative there is a positive and that is what this awards programme is all about.

“For a small country we have a wealth of talent to be proud of.”

Tipperary Labour TD Alan Kelly received the Political and Governmental Affairs Award for his rise from senator, to MEP, and now Junior Minister at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport.

Tara Cunningham, from Co Offaly, received the Contribution to Children Award for establishing Release Communication Intervention — a pioneering new form of speech and language therapy for children with disabilities.

It was recently recognised by The American Speech Language Hearing Association as Ireland’s first emerging best-practice in early intervention speech and language therapy.

Michael Kelly, from Co Waterford, received the Moral/Environmental Leadership Award for founding GIY (Grow It Yourself), which encourages people to grow their own food.

Dubliner Dr Stephen Kinsella, an economics lecturer in UL, received the Academic Leadership Awards for his skill at communicating complex economic issues to the general public, for establishing Bizcamp Limerick, and for establishing advocacy group NewBeginning.ie, which helps thousands of householders in mortgage distress.

Dr Lisa O’Donoghue, from Limerick, received the Scientific and Technological Development Award for developing new alloys for stents, and the world’s first automated LCD recycling technology.

Cardiology specialist registrar, Dr John O’Sullivan from Co Clare, won the Medical Innovation Award for his work on heart attacks and treatments to improve patient outcomes.

His research has already earned him the American College of Cardiology Young Investigator Award 2011 — the first time it was presented to a researcher based in Ireland.

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