One of Ireland’s greatest Olympians has said the disabled sailing world championships, which drew to a close in Co Cork yesterday, will leave a lasting legacy that reaches far beyond the sport.
John Twomey, 57, chairman of the International Association of Disabled Sailing, said the association’s event, hosted by Kinsale Yacht Club, has helped the town become one of the most wheelchair-accessible towns in Europe.
“Everyone has complimented the town on how accessible it is and how well it looks,” said Mr Twomey.
“It’s a great promotion of Ireland, of Kinsale and of Paralympic sailing. And that’s just one of the legacies.”
Mr Twomey, who has been using a wheelchair since he broke his back aged 14, participated in his 10th Paralympics last year — the first Irish person, able-bodied or disabled, to reach the remarkable landmark.
The Kinsale Yacht Club member competed in this week’s world championships and said the event, which featured hundreds of sailors from 19 countries, has also helped change attitudes towards people with disabilities, and will have massive spin-off tourism benefits for the wider Cork region.
“It was great to have this event in your own locality,” he said.
“These opportunities — hosting a world championships — are very rare.
“But the whole town, the whole community got behind this. The competitors were thrilled with the whole set-up.
“Hopefully, we have competitors from 19 countries going home with great memories.”
He praised the support the event received from chief sponsors, Cork County Council, the Irish Sports Council, The Gathering, Lilly, the Irish Sailing Association, and Kinsale Yacht Club.
Despite weather forcing the cancellation of two days of sailing, event organisers still managed to squeeze nine of the 10 planned competitions into the remaining days.
Three new Paralympic World Champions were crowned last night.
Frenchman Bruno Jourdren and his crew, Eric Flageul and Nicolas Vimont-Vicary, won the three-man Sonar class.
In the two-man Skud 18 fleet, Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell from the British sailing team came out on top, while Heiko Kroger from Germany scooped gold in the largest of the fleets — the 2.4mR class.
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