A nine-strong Irish team has been announced for the 2015 IPC Athletics World Championships, which will be held 21-31 October in Doha, Qatar. The team, which is sponsored by Allianz Ireland, is comprised of three male and six female athletes, including reigning Paralympic champions Jason Smyth and Michael McKillop, and London 2012 Paralympic medallist Orla Barry.
This trio will be joined by three-time Paralympian John McCarthy. Five more female field athletes complete the team; Deirdre Mongan returns from her debut at the 2013 World Championships in Lyon, France. Noelle Lenihan, Niamh McCarthy, Lorraine Regan and Hayley Fitzsimons will be competing in their first World Championships.
Smyth – four-time gold medallist in the 100m and 200m T13 from London 2012 and Beijing 2008 – will only compete in the 100m at Doha 2015. He has resumed racing following knee surgery in the early part of the year. The reigning world champion and record holder at 100m and 200m T13 was recently crowned the world’s fastest male para-athlete following a race that celebrated one year to go until the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
“It’s been a long year rehabilitating from surgery, so I’m hoping I can end it on a high [note],” Smyth said. “I realised last year I have got to be 100 per cent. I can’t be running at 90 or even 95 per cent and apply maximum force. So I’ve spent a lot of time getting over those injury problems and now it’s a case of continuing to put in the work and building on it over the next few months.”
McKillop, reigning world champion and world record holder in the 800m and 1,500m T37, also returns to the track after a prolonged injury and will look to defending his titles.
Discus F57 silver medallist at last year’s European Championships, Barry will face increased competition in Doha, as the leading quartet of athletes in her class are all non-European based.
John McCarthy will compete in the 100m and 400m T51 category and will target a top-five finish in Doha.
Mongan returns to a major championships for the first time since the birth of her daughter last year and will compete in the shot put F53. Mongan is ranked No. 2 in the world following her new Irish record of 4.26m at the national championships in July.
Fellow discus throwers Lenihan (F38) and Niamh McCarthy (F41) will both make their debuts for Ireland at a major international championship. Lenihan, 15, is currently ranked third in the world. McCarthy is also ranked third in her class and has been making impressive progress since her emergence in early 2013.
Regan, who finished fifth at last year’s European Championships, is hopeful of a strong placing in her first Worlds, while Fitzsimons is competing for the first time in an Irish vest in the shot put F40.
“This is a strong team with four of those selected having competed at multiple Paralympic Games,” said James Nolan, Irish team manager and Head of Athletics at Paralympics Ireland. “It’s also great to see some of the newer faces emerging to make the team. Heat and humidity will be an influencing factor in Doha … The field athletes will be exposed to the elements most, as their competitions take over three hours to complete and most are set for early afternoon local time. However I’m confident they have done the necessary preparatory work to achieve success at this level. For some, that will be podium positions. While for others, personal bests or season bests are the target.”