Having exceeded all expectations by winning 11 medals at the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Ireland’s outstanding team received a rapturous welcome when they arrived at Dublin Airport yesterday. It was no more than they deserved as families and friends gathered in their hundreds.
Among them was Jason Smyth who, despite being legally blind, is the fastest man in the paralympic world and now a winner of five gold medals. Also among the victorious athletes was his close friend, the Co Antrim runner Michael McKillop, who won a fourth Paralympic gold medal in the 1500m, T37 class.
Television viewers at home in Ireland were mightily impressed by their prowess. But if anything, they were perhaps even more astounded by the sight of inspiring swimmers as they performed incredible feats in spite of having only one leg or one arm, or in some cases no legs at all. To watch the Irish athletes perform was a truly humbling experience. Heroes all.