*Jeam Molony & Mairead Moroney celebrate their Olympic success. Photograph: Ray McManus
Mairead Moroney and her playing partner Jean Molony will return to Dublin Airport tomorrow proudly sporting silver Olympic medals.
On the sixth and final day of the Special Olympics, the Ennis golfers won silver medals in Abu Dhabi. At the age of 69, Mairead was the oldest athlete competing in the Games and her efforts on the course ensured she would not go home empty handed.
As the final day of competition concluded, Team Ireland has emerged victorious with an incredible medal haul of 86 medals. Having secured 30 gold, 29 silver and 27 bronze medals across a variety of sports, Team Ireland athletes have had huge success in what has been a remarkable week of sport.
Yas Links Abu Dhabi Golf Course proved to be a happy hunting ground for the Irish with four gold medals, a silver and a fourth-place ribbon for athletes in their individual events. Claiming gold for were Simon Lowry from Loughrea, Blackrock’s Mark Claffey, John Keating of Templeogue, and Andrew Simington from Dalkey with his playing partner Phyl Kelleher from Rathfarnham.
Success for Mairead is all the more remarkable considering she first swung a golf club seven years ago. In preparation for the Olympics, Moroney completed two golf sessions a week whereas she would typically have just played once a week.
Speaking in Abu Dhabi, the Olympic medallist highlighted how honoured she was to be a part of Team Ireland. “I’m very happy to be representing Ireland, it’s a great privilege and an honour. It gives me great independence and confidence in myself. I didn’t realise I was the oldest until I got here. But I don’t mind that at all.”
Reflecting on an amazing week of sport in Abu Dhabi, Emma McMenamin, Special Olympics Ulster Head of Delegation stated, “This week has seen fantastic results from all of our athletes and we couldn’t be happier with the hard work and determination they have demonstrated in each of their events. It has been inspiring to watch our athletes compete with integrity and to come home with such an incredible medal haul is the cherry on top of what has been an unforgettable week for all of us.
“We have had a wonderful couple of weeks in the beautiful surroundings of Abu Dhabi, and we are certain that our athletes will travel home with much more than just medals. They have made lasting friendships and memories that will stay with them for a lifetime and that is exactly what we hoped to achieve.”