The area of south Donegal and north Leitrim and Sligo have been celebrating this week the exploits of Kelly Gallagher in winning Great Britain’s first ever gold medal at the Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi.
Visually-impaired skier Kelly Gallagher and guide Charlotte Evans took the super-G title in one minute, 28.72 seconds as they bounced back from a disappointment in the downhill discipline in emphatic fashion.
There are very strong Donegal connections to Great Britain’s first ever gold medal win especially in the Bundoran and Kilcar/Carrick area. Kelly’s mum and dad are from the general Bundoran area. Her late dad, Padraig (who passed away last year) was from an area known as The Loughside and had connections to Kilcar with Kelly’s grandmother being O’Donnell from Ballymoon, Kilcar and there are connections of the O’Donnell family from Kilcar, Carrick and Glencolmcille.
Kelly’s mother, Margaret, who now lives in Strandhill, Co. Sligo, has sisters living in Bundoran and among her nieces are Ocean FM radio broadcaster, Marion Fitzgerald.
Speaking after the win on Monday, Kelly said: “It was really hard work coming from downhill into Super-G because they are similar speed events. We were told by our sports psychologist to put it away, it’s one result. It’s so easy to say, so hard to do.
“I lost all of my faith in myself, in Charlotte, in our processes, in what we were doing and I was like, ‘I only have a couple of hours to put this together, because we’re going to be back on snow and we’ve got to race’.
“We’ve had to do that so many times along the road and I guess all that was training for going from downhill to Super-G.”
Gallagher and Evans admitted they could not have felt lower after the downhill run.
Evans was in tears after that disappointment and said: “It takes a lot to make me cry, even the coach didn’t really know what to do with me. It was that awkward tap like, ‘Come on, sort yourself out’. My eyes were sore from crying.
“We did our best in the downhill and it didn’t work, I can’t tell you why. But I know that today worked.”
Kelly Gallagher Factfile
Born: 18 May, 1985 in Northern Ireland
Events: Visually impaired super combined, slalom, giant slalom, Super-G, downhill
Games Attended: Sochi 2014, Vancouver 2010
Achievements: Britain’s first Winter Paralympic gold medallist after winning the Super-G in Sochi
Silver medallist in Super-G at 2013 World Championships in La Molina, Spain
Fourth in Giant Slalom at Vancouver Paralympics in 2010