WHEN Team Ireland touch down in Dublin today, they will do so with an extraordinary 86 medal haul from the Special Olympics World Games.
A total of 88 Irish athletes competed in 13 different sports at the Games in Los Angeles over a two-week period, and the medals were still arriving on the final day.
As the Games drew to a close, Team Ireland won 26 gold, 29 silver and 31 bronze medals, with 16 of these arriving on the final day of competition.
Equestrian athlete, Déarbáil Savage, 15, from Co Armagh, claimed a gold medal in Team Relay, her third of the week, following an earlier gold and silver medal.
The Irish ladies’ basketball team showcased an impressive performance, beating Mexico by 19-17 to win gold.
Basketball coach Vicki Ronning said: “I am immensely proud of the girls and all the hard work they put in over the last nine months. Despite the strong competition they proved themselves to be the best.”
In football, Ireland’s 11-a-side team delivered a strong performance to beat Iceland 5-4 on penalties at the Drake Stadium in UCLA and head home with a bronze medal.
Donegal gymnast Patrick Quinlivan enjoyed a successful closing day of the Games, with a silver medal in Vault, three bronze medals and three fourth place ribbons.
Ireland’s track relay team claimed silver, in the form of Aoife Beston, 25, from Co Mayo, Donal O’Mahoney, 42, from Co Wicklow, Timothy Morahan, 26, from Dublin and James Meenan, 20, from Co Louth.
There was further success in badminton, where mixed doubles partners Amy Quinn, 30, from Co Wicklow and Brian Hooper, 33, from Co Wexford secured gold.
In the bocce mixed doubles, Mullingar native Peter Malynn, 57, and teammate Anne Hoey, 51, from Co Louth won a silver medal after a successful performance.
The closing ceremony of the 2015 Games was celebrated at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, where thousands of athletes from 16 countries were applauded for their efforts.