Tomorrow morning (Friday) Katie-George Dunlevy and her tandem cycling partner, Eve McCrystal, begin their quest for Olympic glory at the Paralympics in Rio.
Katie-George, whose father, John, is from Mountcharles, is part of a strong Irish team in Rio and she is also one of Ireland’s best hopes for a medal.
The partnership has developed over three years, silver in the road race at the Worlds in 2014and a bronze the following year in the World Cup.
Gold on the road and in the time-trial at the World Cup this year has everyone sitting up and taking note.
Dunlevy has a condition known as retinitis pigmentosa. It’s extremely rare and it gets worse as time passes.
She was told by doctors she’d be fully blind by 30 years, something she’s often struggled to grasp. She had perfect vision until the age of 11 years.
She has had to come to terms with the fact her eyesight could go completely at any moment; a truly grim prospect for anyone to consider.
Although born in England, Katie-George is proud to represent Ireland.
“My dad is from Mountcharles, a small coastal village in south Donegal. He came over to England and met my mother and settled there.
“I spent every summer with my family, most of which are Irish and still live there. Ireland is my second home and I’m very proud to wear the green jersey.”
She comes from a rowing background and is actually a world champion in that from 2004, winning the mixed coxed fours.
After finishing outside the medals as a relative newcomer in London four years ago she’s back for more.
“I believe we can medal and that is what we are going for. However I would be happy knowing that I have done all I can and got the best out of myself on the day.”
Donegal will also be represented in table tennis as Buncrana native, Rena McCarron Buckley, now living in Bearna, Galway, is a para-table tennis player. Rena represented Ireland at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. Since then, she achieved a silver medal in the Singles Event at the European para-table tennis championships in 2015 in Denmark.
Johnny Loughrey of JT Physio, Letterkenny, is one of the Chartered Physiotherapists working with Team Ireland at the Paralympics.