“The Irish performance in London was outstanding, created a huge stir within the Movement globally and is testament to the tremendous work that has been done by Irish athletes and coaches and also Paralympics Ireland as an organisation.”
Several athletes and media members were honoured on Saturday (8 December) at the inaugural OCS Irish Paralympic Awards gala, attended by International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Sir Philip Craven.
Jason Smyth and Michael McKillop both won the Outstanding Male Performance category, while Bethany Firth won for Outstanding Female Performance.
Sprint sensation Smyth claimed double gold at London 2012 in the 100m and 200m T13, both in world-record times, and middle-distance runner McKillop took Paralympic titles this year in the 800m and 1,500m T38 events, with a world-record time in the former.
Firth, a 16-year-old swimmer, won Paralympic gold in the 100m backstroke S14, posting a new Paralympic record of 1:08.93.
“The Irish performance in London was outstanding, created a huge stir within the Movement globally and is testament to the tremendous work that has been done by Irish athletes and coaches and also Paralympics Ireland as an organisation,” Craven said.
“Looking to the future, it will be important to build on this success and enable this successful formula to continue to develop and grow as we move towards Rio 2016.”
Handcyclist Mark Rohan won the Outstanding Games Debut Performance category with his double-gold performance in the road race and time trial H1 events, and 18-year-old swimmer Darragh McDonald was named Young Paralympian of the Games after taking gold in the 400m freestyle S6.
“This has been such an unbelievable year, it is hard to put into words,” Rohan said after receiving his award.
“Since coming back from London, the support has been phenomenal and this award brings the year to a close in a very nice way.”
In the media awards categories, the winners included: Setanta Sports (TV Broadcast), Adriam Eames, RTE (Radio Broadcast), Brian Lawless, Sportsfile (Photographic Image) and Malachy Clerkin, The Irish Times (Written).
Other award winners included Denis Toomey, Outstanding Member of the Irish Paralympic team (non-athlete) for founding Irish Paracycling in 2001 and overseeing its growth to a record success, including two gold, a silver and two bronze medals in London.
Swimmer David Malone, a triple Paralympic medallist, was given the Irish Paralympic Hall of Fame Award; Anne Ebbs received the Irish Paralympic Order as the founder of the Paralympic Council of Ireland; and RTE TV broadcaster Colm Murray won the President’s Award for covering three consecutive Paralympic Games and providing extensive support of Irish Paralympic sport for many years.