As the curtains come down on the Special Olympics World Summer Games, Team Ireland are celebrating a hugely successful spell in Los Angeles.
On the penultimate day 16 medals were secured by the Irish athletes across a wide range of events, including kayaking, golf, bowling, equestrian, athletics, aquatics and gymnastics.
The team will be bringing 86 medals home on Tuesday morning when they return to Dublin Airport to a heroes welcome.
On the final day of competition Irish athletes won six gold, five silver and five bronze. This leaves the team with a final medal tally of 26 gold, 29 silver, 31 bronze, 31 personal bests and 43 placement ribbons.
On a stunning last day of sport the Irish ladies basketball team delivered their best performance of the World Game to date beating Mexico by 19 points to 17 points to win Gold.
Basketball coach Vicki Ronning said she was “blown away” by her players.
She said: "I am immensely proud of the girls and all the hard work they put in over the last nine months. Despite the strong competition they proved themselves to be the best."
Team Ireland’s Sarah Byrne is tackled by Mexico's Karla Diaz, left, and Maria Alba, 13, during the BB Basketball Team Division F.02 Final, at the Galen Center.
Dublin player Sarah Bryne, 18-years-old from Clondalkin, was stunned by her team’s achievement and explained how her teammates had to fight back to claim the victory.
She said: "I can’t believe it. It was my dream to get a gold medal. We went to sleep for a little while but towards the end our defence picked up and our shooting got a bit better."
At the Drake Stadium in UCLA Team Ireland’s 11-a-side footballers put in a huge performance to beat Iceland 5-4 on penalties. The victory meant the Irish players will leave Los Angeles with a bronze medal.
Head coach Paul Martyn said he was delighted for his players.
Leon Keogh, 15, Noel Delaney, 11, Robert Byrne, 4, and Wayne McDonagh of Team Ireland.
He said: "We had to play five games in five days. In the final game we got the equalizer with three minutes to go. That just epitomised the determination to bring home a medal. The respect the lads showed after the missed penalty was sportsmanship of the highest order.” "
On the athletics track there was further medal joy for the relay team – 25-year-old Aoife Beston from Claremorris, Co Mayo, 42 year-old Donal O’Mahoney from Kilcoole, Co Wicklow, 26-year-old Timothy Morahan from Rathmines, Dublin and 20 year old James Meenan from Dundalk Co Louth – who won a silver medal.
In badminton there was a gold medal in the mixed doubles for Amy Quinn (30) from Bray, Co Wicklow and her partner Brian Hooper (33) from Gorey, Co Wicklow. In the bocce mixed doubles Mullingar man Peter Malynn (57) and playing partner Anne Hoey (51) from Drogheda Co Louth took a silver medal after a series of great displays in the bowls type sport.
Team Ireland’s Dearbhail Savage, from Mowhan, Co Armagh, is congratulated by her dad Michael, left, and her mother Karen as she is announced as a Silver Medal winner at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center.
Speaking on the final day of competition Team Ireland, CEO Matt English said: “Each and every member of Team Ireland has put in an extraordinary effort here in Los Angeles. From medals, ribbon placements and personal bests, this has been one of the most successful World Games ever. A huge debt of gratitude must go to the coaches and management team who have led and assisted our athletes on every step of the way. And I know the people of Ireland will welcome back our athletes and give them the hero’s welcome they rightly deserve.”
The curtains come down on the 2015 World Games on Sunday 2nd of August with a closing ceremony at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum featuring singer songwriter Carly Rae Jepsen and Victoria Arlen, Paralympic gold medallist. Team Ireland competed in 12 different Olympic style sports. Their selection to Team Ireland came after four years of training and competition.