Team Ireland off to great start at Special Olympic World Games

Team Ireland off to great start at Special Olympic World Games

TEAM Ireland have begun their campaign at the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles in thrilling fashion. 

Three Irish swimmers claimed the country’s first medals at the Uytengsu Aquatics Centre on day one of the Games.

Sean Coleman, Gary McEnroe and Sarah Jane Johnston collected a silver and two bronze medals between them, and coach Jenny Hughes was delighted with their achievement.

“We just hoped that they’d swim their hearts out,” she told The Irish Independent.

“The medals are a bonus.”

Cork native Coleman, 22, fought off competition from the Netherlands and Ivory Coast to win silver in the final moments of the 25-metre backstroke race.

Johnston, 35, from Co Armagh became the first Irish athlete to claim a medal when she finished third in the 100-metre backstroke earlier in the day.

Dublin’s McEnroe, 24, clinched Ireland’s third medal of the competition in his 25-metre backstroke race.

The swimmers, who made their debuts at the Games, performed in front of a 300-strong Irish crowd.

Other members of Team Ireland were also in action with the 11-a-side soccer team – coached by LA Galaxy’s Robbie Keane – claimed a goalless draw with Great Britain.

The Games kicked off in style on Saturday night at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, with Irish actor Colin Farrell leading Team Ireland at the ceremony.

He was joined by Irish Olympic silver medallist John Treacy and Robbie Keane’s wife Claudine.

In total, 88 Irish athletes will compete in 13 different sports at the Games, which runs until August 2.