Paralympics Ireland announces strong team for Rio 2016!

Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Patrick O’Donovan T.D., was on hand at Dublin’s City Hall today to announce the Irish Paralympic Team for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games which will take place from September 7th to 18th.

A team of 44 athletes was announced on the day across nine sports, with para-triathletes Catherine Walsh and Fran Meehan also qualifying for the Games a week later to bring the team size up to 46. 

The team will now compete across 10 different sports at the Games in Rio, includes three reigning world champions (athletics and cycling) and two defending Paralympic champions, Jason Smyth and Michael McKillop, who will be aiming to defend their titles in the 100m (T13) and 1,500m (T37) respectively.

Also featuring for athletics is London 2012 bronze medallist and World Championship silver medallist Orla Barry, who will be joined by World Championship silver medallist and world record holder, Noelle Lenihan along with European record holder Niamh McCarthy - both of whom will feature at a Paralympic Games for the first time.

Meanwhile in swimming, Dubliner Ellen Keane will be attending her third Paralympic Games at the age of 21, while James Scully will be returning for his second Games.

For the first time ever, Ireland will compete in canoeing at the Paralympic Games and it is also hoped that there will be Irish athletes representing their country in para-triathlon, with the qualification window for this sport scheduled to close later in July.

Speaking at the team announcement, Minister of State O’Donovan commented: “I would like to congratulate all of the athletes on their selection for the 2016 Paralympic Games. It is a tremendous honour for each of the athletes who have been selected to represent Ireland at the Rio Games and they can all be very proud of that achievement.

“I have no doubt that they will be wonderful ambassadors for Ireland and for their respective sports.  I would like to wish all of the athletes well in their final preparations for Rio.”

Chef de Mission for the Irish Team, Denis Toomey, commented: “Team announcement day is a major milestone on Paralympic Ireland’s road To Rio.  Qualifications and selections are complete and today we announced those athletes who will represent Ireland at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

“As Chef de Mission, it has been both an honour and a privilege to be tasked with telling the nation who the lucky athletes are and I certainly look forward to leading them all to Rio for the Games.”

Paralympic Performance Director, Dave Malone, spoke about the Irish Paralympic Team’s performance goals for Rio 2016: “Irish athletes will go to Rio this September and compete for glory against approximately 4,350 athletes from all parts of the world over the course of 11 days.

“The team is ready to achieve great personal and collective success at the Games, and their performances throughout the qualification process for Rio indicates that a medal target of eight for the team is achievable. We also anticipate a large number of finals from the team, and we are seeking career best performances from as many of the team as possible on the biggest stage of all."

“We have ring fenced all available supports around the athletes in order to ensure that they can produce their optimum performance on the international stage.”

The first wave of athletes will depart on August 23rd, and will use the Irish Holding Camp in Uberlandia, Brazil to prepare for the Games, which has been set up with the generous support of Sport Ireland.

Coverage of the Rio 2016 Paralympics Games will be available on RTÉ with thanks to Allianz throughout the duration of the Games, on TV, radio and online.

The Irish team in full:

ATHLETICS: Orla Barry (Cork), Orla Comerford (Dublin), Paul Keogan (Co. Meath), Noelle Lenihan (Co. Cork), Niamh McCarthy (Co. Cork), Michael McKillop (Co. Antrim), Patrick Monahan (Co. Kildare), Deirdre Mongan (Co. Galway) Jason Smyth (Co. Derry), Greta Streimikyte (Co. Dublin). 

CANOEING: Pat O'Leary (Co. Cork)

CYCLING: Eoghan Clifford (Co. Galway), Katie-George Dunlevy (Crawley, UK) and pilot Eve McCrystal (Co. Louth), Colin Lynch (Macclesfield, UK), Declan Slevin (Co. Westmeath), Ciara Staunton (Co. Wicklow), Damien Vereker (Co. Kilkenny now based in Waterford) and pilot Seán Hahessy (Co. Tipperary)

EQUESTRIAN: Helen Kearney (Co. Wicklow)

FOOTBALL: Luke Evans - captain (Co. Dublin), Tom Badun (Co. Louth), Cormac Birt (Co Antrim), Peter Cotter (Co. Cork), Joe Markey (Co. Monaghan), Brian McGillivary (Co. Dublin), Carl McKee (Co. Dublin), Gary Messett (Co. Wicklow), Ryan Nolan (Co. Wicklow), Eric O'Flaherty (Co. Galway), Dillon Sheridan (Co. Dublin), Aaron Tier (Co. Limerick), Conor Tuite (Co. Louth), Ryan Walker (Co. Armagh). 

SAILING: John Twomey (Co. Cork), Austin O’Carroll (Co. Dublin), Ian Costelloe (Co. Kerry)

SHOOTING: Seán Baldwin (Co. Kildare), Phillip Eaglesham (Co. Tyrone)

SWIMMING: Ellen Keane (Co. Dublin), Ailbhe Kelly (Co. Dublin), James Scully (Co. Meath), Nicole Turner (Co. Laois)

TABLE TENNIS: Rena McCarron Rooney (Co. Donegal)

TRIATHLON: Catherine Walsh (Co. Dublin) with pilot Fran Meehan (Co. Offaly)

**Updated August 23rd, 2016**