Donegal Olympian Sinead Jennings returned to her hometown on Thursday night and paid tribute to the people of Letterkenny for the support they have given her over her sporting career.
A large crowd gathered at the Market Square for a homecoming celebration for the town’s newest Olympian who said she was humbled by seeing so many people there to greet her.
“I’m still in shock. I still can’t believe so many people turned up,” she said.
“The support of the town has been unbelievable. All through my 16 years of trying to get to an Olympics, the support has always been there.
“I never did doubt that they would be out to support me, but it’s been absolutely phenomenal. There were people up watching the race in Hawthorn Heights, I nearly wanted to be up there watching it with them. I can’t thank people enough.”
Jennings, who reached the final of the Lightweight Double Sculls event along with her rowing partner, Claire Lambe, will spend the weekend in Donegal, along with her three daughters, Clodagh, Molly and Hannah.
They three girls stood close to their mum during the formalities before Sinead was interviewed by Oisin Kelly of Highland Radio. Among those to address the event were Minister Joe McHugh, Cllr. James Pat McDaid and Cllr. Michael McBride. Teresa McDaid of Letterkenny AC and Paddy Bond of Swilly Seals Swimming Club, also said a few words.
They all said Sinead was an inspiration to so many people in Donegal.
Speaking afterwards, Sinead said she had achieved a lifetime ambition by getting to the Olympics in Rio.
“I did worry a little bit that we’d get there and underperform and then have to live with that regret,” she said.
“But myself and Claire had a little chat before it and we decided that if we could just deliver our best performance, that we’d be happy. We really did, we probably went above our best performance and I was delighted with that.”