"Sport smashes insecurities" - Ellen Keane on the power of sport for Paralympic athletes

Elite Irish athlete Ellen Keane gave a powerful insight into life as a Paralympic star to a packed room in the Irish Embassy in London on Tuesday evening.

Elite Irish athlete Ellen Keane gave a powerful insight into life as a Paralympic star to a packed room in the Irish Embassy in London on Tuesday evening.


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The talented swimmer was partaking in a 'Question and Answer' session with Paralympics Ireland board member and rugby hero, Gordon D’Arcy, along with fellow athletes Michael McKillop and Jason Smyth, and gave an inspirational and thought-provoking view of life behind the starting blocks.“I was really insecure about my arm when I was younger,” she explained. “I used to always wear my sleeves down and I didn’t like to draw attention to it.

“Swimming gave me the confidence to be proud of who I am. With swimming, there’s nowhere to hide, there’s no clothes to cover you. It was just me and my swimsuit.

“Day after day I got into the pool, and my confidence grew and grew. Sport doesn’t allow you to have insecurities, it pushes you to be the best you can be and to do the best you can. Swimming gave me the confidence to follow my dreams,” she reflected, explaining to those in attendance that she is now studying Culinary Arts in DIT.“I really, really love my course. For me, it was really important that while being disabled, I could prove that I was able. It means a lot to me that I’m able to do this course and to show others that they are able to as well.

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“On top of that, the support I have received over the years has been phenomenal, but I also have two amazing supporters in my corner – my parents. They follow me wherever I go, regardless of the competition. They are my greatest supporters."“They come to events fully kitted out in Irish gear. Last year, at the World Championships, they wore green suits and became more famous than any of the athletes!” she laughed.

“Being out there and knowing you are representing your country and making them proud is an amazing feeling."

Images: Noel Mullen