Pride as Ireland's medal heroes return home after superb World Para Athletics Championships in London

Pride as Ireland's medal heroes return home after superb World Para Athletics Championships in London

THE CURTAIN came down on a highly successful Para Athletics World Championships for Ireland on Sunday, with the 10-strong team packing seven medals as they returned to Dublin Airport from London.

Four golds were split between Jason Smyth and Michael McKillop, while the Cork trio of Niamh McCarthy, Orla Barry and Noelle Lenihan all won silver medals.

Ireland finished in 14th place in the overall table but surpassed their medal target, having placed fifth among European teams.

Speaking after the closing ceremony on Sunday evening, manager James Nolan said the future is looking very bright for Team Ireland.

“This team have been progressing amazingly well since London 2012. We were successful in Doha 2015 and Rio 2016 but to come away from this World Championships with seven medals from 10 athletes is truly world class,” he said.

“The athletes surpassed all targets set. Taking into account population, team size and medals won, we are one of the strongest nations in the world of Paralympic Athletics.

“With the European Championships next year in Berlin, if this team can reproduce the level of performance seen here in London this week, they will be a dominant force in 2018.”

Meanwhile Smyth, who won gold in both the T13 100m and the 200m in London, revealed he is starting the first of two work experience stints this week as he prepares for life after competitive sport.

"One is more retail banking, and the other is more in investing and stock-broking, just to get an overview of things to see if I can gain some experience and over the next few years help me transition from sport," he told the BBC's Sunday News.

However the visually impaired sprinter, the world’s fastest para athlete, still hopes to compete at the 2020 Paralympics in Toyko.

"As long as I feel I can kick on and sustain at that level, I will continue to do so," he said, "and once I get to Tokyo I'll probably reassess and see where I'm at and where the future is.

"The hard thing is that people often look at sport and think 'lots of money, flashy lifestyle', and yes, that is the case within certain sports, but for a lot of sports that's a long way from the reality of the situation.

"I don't think there are a lot of things in place for athletes as they try to transition, because you give 100 per cent to something constantly and so you have to let everything else sit on the backburner."

Team Ireland arrived back to delighted family and friends at Dublin Airport on Monday afternoon.

Para sports have become increasingly popular in recent years, and the results in London prove Ireland is fast becoming something of a global force in para athletics.