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Irish Paralympic athletes meet President Higgins

On his first overseas visit as President, Michael D. Higgins made a landmark tour of London’s Olympic Park with the Chair of LOCOG, Lord Sebastian Coe. Irish Paralympic athletes and management were also invited to participate in yesterday’s special event. Special event Paralympics Ireland were represented by President Jimmy Gradwell, CEO Liam Harbison and athletes Michael McKillop (pictured above) and Sarah Caffrey.  In conversation, President Higgins expressed his full support for the Irish Paralympic Team and their efforts to succeed in London later this year. Lord Coe’s Certificate of Irish Heritage The guests which also included OCI President, Pat Hickey and Olympics-bound gymnast, Kieran Behan, witnessed the President Higgins present a “Certificate of Irish Heritage” to Lord Coe in honour of his Irish ancestry (Ballyraggat, Kerry). The President also quipped that had we known of Lord Coe’s ancestry 30 years ago, Ireland may have won more Olympic medals! London’s Olympic Stage Looking out across the stadium where he will defend his T37 Paralympic 800m title, Michael McKillop was excited: “It looks fantastic, I can imagine 80,000 people – many of them Irish – cheering us on to victory.  Being here today really brings it home how close we are to the Games.” Invitation to attend the Games During the event, Liam Harbison extended an invitation to President Higgins to attend the Paralympic Games later this year.  We’re thrilled that President Higgins replied positively – if he does attend, he will become the first Irish President to do so. (Photo courtesy of Malcolm McNally – Irish Post)

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