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Gallery | Sport

Photos… Golden dreams of Rio and memories of London 2012

Paralympic Gold medalists Michael McKillop and Jason Smyth and swimmer Ellen Keane. Photo - Malcolm McNally
Paralympic Gold medalists Michael McKillop and Jason Smyth and swimmer Ellen Keane. Photo – Malcolm McNally

THREE OF Ireland’s top Paralympic athletes were in London last night to relive golden memories of the London 2012 Paralympic Games and to reconnect with their supporters in the Irish community as the countdown to Rio 2016 continues.

Paralympic gold medalists Jason Smyth, ‘the fastest Paralympian on the planet’, and Michael McKillop were joined by swimmer Ellen Keane at a reception hosted by Ambassador Dan Mulhall at the Irish Embassy.

Also present were Paralympics Ireland CEO Liam Harbison and Irish rugby legends and Paralympics Ireland supporters Fergus Slattery and Gordon D’Arcy.

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Paralympics Ireland CEO Liam Harbison and Irish rugby legend and Paralympics Ireland supporter Fergus Slattery. Photo - Malcolm McNally
Paralympics Ireland CEO Liam Harbison and Irish rugby legend and Paralympics Ireland supporter Fergus Slattery. Photo – Malcolm McNally

Mr. Harbison outlined the team’s expectations for Rio 2016 and said they hope Team Ireland will win at least eight medals at this year’s Games.

“Looking ahead to Rio, we are hoping to having a team of about 45 athletes and have set a medal target of about eight,” he stated.

“We’re on track behind our Chef de Mission, Denis Toomey, and we look forward to doing both the Irish public and the Irish diaspora extremely proud when they tune in to watch the Games in Rio.

“It’s great to be back here in London with some of the many friends we made during the incredible London 2012 Paralympic Games,” he continued. “We are here to relive some of the magic from those Games and also to reconnect with our supporters here as we move closer to Rio 2016.

“Rio certainly has an enormous act to follow to get even close to the standard of the Paralympic Games that took place here four years ago. It’s a tough task and I’m sure they’ll do their very best to match it, and with just 198 days left to go, we are now calling on Irish everywhere to get behind the team and support us as much as possible to help showcase the superb capabilities of our elite Irish Paralympics athletes,” he concluded.

LtoR: Jason Smyth, Irish Ambassador Dan Mulhall, Ellen Keane, Michael McKillop, Paralympics Ireland CEO Liam Harbison and Irish rugby legend Gordon D’Arcy. Photo - Malcolm McNally
LtoR: Jason Smyth, Irish Ambassador Dan Mulhall, Ellen Keane, Michael McKillop, Paralympics Ireland CEO Liam Harbison and Irish rugby legend Gordon D’Arcy. Photo – Malcolm McNally

Speaking after the event, athlete Jason Smyth said: “It is always great to have opportunities to build on the support and awareness of the Irish Paralympic Team, especially as we head into the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio and it was fantastic to reconnect with our supporters in London once more.”

Ellen Keane and Michael McKillop joined Smyth in their enjoyment of the event, with McKillop adding: “Tonight was a fantastic opportunity to engage with our supporters here in London and to show them that we are working hard to do them proud on the grandest stage of them all this year at the Rio 2016 Games.”

Paralympics Ireland is also looking forward to the launch of its new website later this month, and guests at the reception were given a preview of some exciting things to come in the months ahead.

Supporters were invited to follow the Irish Paralympic team on social media (facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine) for all the latest updates on Ireland’s Road To Rio.

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Malcolm McNally is a photographer with The Irish Post. Follow him on Twitter @malcolmmcnally

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