Two Donegal athletes will represent Ireland in the London Paralympics 2012 - Ann Marie McDaid from Ramelton and Rena McCarron from Buncrana.
Rena is competing in the table tennis singles competition and Anne Marie McDaid in the rowing, mixed cox four (two seat).
For Anne Marie it is a remarkable story as three years ago she couldn’t walk without a stick due to Multiple Sclerosis. The 47-year-old, who lives in Donnybrook in Dublin, only took up sport competitively three years ago and now trains twice a day, six days a week and feels the exercise plus the vitamin D she gets from being outdoors has vastly improved her medical condition.
“I was diagnosed with MS in 2006 and I was substantially worse than I am now,” says Anne Marie. “I was diagnosed in September 2006 and for the first three months, until Christmas, I cried. I had absolutely no idea, not even a hint, that it would be MS. It’s terribly frightening.
“Fortunately for me - and I know it seems funny to say that - but the later in life you get diagnosed with MS, the better. That’s actually good news, if you’re desperately trying to find good news,” says Anne Marie.
Anne Marie first began rowing in September 2009. The retired banker said: “My first competition was in November 2010 and it was the World Championships. I shouldn’t have been in that boat. I was a novice beyond novice. We got fifth in the world, it was remarkable.
“We then went to the World Championships in 2011 where we came fifth and qualified for the London Paralympics.”
After the success of the 2012 London Olympic Games the Irish Paralympic Team, consisting of 49 athletes representing 20 counties, is now in the final stages of preparation in advance of the Paralympic Games starting on August 29th.
For the first time in history the games will be broadcast live and free to air by Setanta Sports in association with Allianz, which means that fans can catch all of the action and support our Irish Paralympic team in their quest for medals. Coverage is available on UPC channel 105 and Sky channel 423.
Donegal athlete profiles
Anne Marie McDaid Ramelton
Anne-Marie McDaid rows in the bow seat for the LTA mixed coxed four. As a product of the “Paralions” talent identification programme, Anne-Marie has played a key role in the crew’s success since her arrival in 2009. The Team secured 5th Place in the 2010 World Championships in New Zealand. Their fifth-place finish at Slovenia’s 2011 World Rowing Championships means that they will become the first Irish boat to compete at a Paralympic Games.
Rena McCarron Rooney Buncrana
Rena has been involved in table tennis for fifteen years and has enjoyed success at both national and international level. In 2011 alone, she secured Irish and Costa Rican Open titles. She also received Bronze in the European Championships in the Team event and Silver in the US Open. She is a past winner of the Liverpool and Irish Open in addition to this and also competed in the 2010 World Championships in Korea. She is focused on preparing for London 2012 and will look to make a big impact with her recent results and current World Ranking of 9th.
There is also North West interest with Derry Jason Smyth defending his Paralympic title at 100m and 200m.