DONEGAL'S OLYMPIC DREAMS FULFILLED IN RIO

DONEGAL'S GREAT OLYMPIC TRADITION CONTINUES

Peter Campbell sport@donegaldemocrat.com @dgldemocrat

There were no medals but dreams were fulfilled in the past week by Donegal athletes at the Olympic Games in Rio.

The highlight of the Games so far for Team Ireland has been provided by the rowers with the O'Donovan brothers from Skibbereen taking the spotlight with their silver medals in the lightweight double skulls on Friday.

Just before that race Letterkenny's Sinead Jennings fulfilled her lifetime dream of competing in an Olympic final along with her partner Claire Lambe. There were no medals for the Irish girls at the finish, but reaching the final was a great achievement.

"It's been one incredible journey. It has been such an honour. We have shown the way that Irish women can make Olympic finals," said Sinead, who hinted that she might be back in four years time in Tokyo. "I don't think I can give it up!"

The Jennings home in Letterkenny was packed by family and friends, which is a true reflection of what the Olympics should be all about. Sister Caitriona was there to cheer on with the rest of the family, having already achieved her Olympic dream in London four years ago in the marathon.

Mark English, too, while not making the final, can be extremely proud of his achievement of making the semi-final. English was really up against it in the semi-final with the toughest draw, which included the favourite and world record holder, David Rudisha. In the end, Mark would have needed to smash the Irish record to make the final as a fastest loser - that was the standard required. The Letterkenny man came home in a creditable fifth position in 1.45.93.

Raphoe' s Chloe Magee bowed out of the badminton competition, but like Mark English, she was really up against it, drawing the second seed, Wang Yihan of China and Germany's Karin Schnaase in her group. It was Chloe's third Olympics, a magnificent achievement in itself.

Yesterday, Kinlough's Breege Connolly fulfilled her dream, representing Ireland in the marathon and finished ina credible 76th place. Like Sinead Jennings, Breege truly represents what the Olympics should be about, having only taken up athletics seriously in her early 20s.

The spotlight this week will be on Tori Pena of Finn Valley in the pole vault (tomorrow Tuesday), while on Friday, Milford's Brendan Boyce will be competing in the gruelling 50k walk.