Special wins for locals

Pictured: Clare Nolan and Keith Butler, Gold medal winners for Ireland in the Special Olympics.

Pictured: Clare Nolan and Keith Butler, Gold medal winners for Ireland in the Special Olympics.

A very special event to honour some very special people took place in August. The location was the 4th Port Sea Scout Den at Derrynane Gardens, Bath Avenue; the people were some of our heroic athletes who took part in the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles earlier this year.

The guests of honour were Clare Nolan and Keith Butler, who both won gold medals at the games, Clare for basketball and Keith for swimming.

Keith, 23, is with the D6 Special Olympics Club. He won his gold in the 800m Freestyle event, but also took part in the one-mile open sea swim and set a new personal best in the process. It’s any 23 year old’s dream to visit Long Beach California, but to do so with crowds cheering you on while you compete in an Olympic event is something that can be summed up in one word from Keith himself: “awesome!”

Keith’s winning performance is all the more noteworthy as a bad injury saw him out of training until January. Dedication was the name of the game and he trained every day to be ready for the trip to LA.

Clare told us she has only been playing basketball for a year but has found a natural ability, something of an understatement as her game was particularly tight on the day. A very hard battle ensued between Ireland and Mexico, but she and her team prevailed and won 19-17. “We went to each other’s events and the support was great, we’d be there waving flags and cheering and the Irish were the noisiest,” Clare said.

Clare’s father Pearce looks after the St Augustine’s Past Pupils Club, who hold an event every year in the Derrynane Scouts’ Den. St Augustine’s is a special needs school in Blackrock and is renowned for its dedication to sporting endevours. He told NewsFour, “It’s a chance for all the old friends to meet up and do something every month. We go to a movie or they get to pick something to do themselves. It’s a very tight school and the pupils get very close so when they go out into the big bad world it’s important for them to keep contact with each other”.

Joe from The Fair Play Café took care of the eats with his usual skill, all the more impressive when it was pointed out that everything except the meat and bread came from the Scouts’ very own kitchen garden. In all, Team Ireland’s 88 athletes were blinging with medals on their triumphant return, having won 26 gold, 28 silver and 28 bronze medals.

By Steve Kingston