Double Gold for Team Ireland at International Debut
Following the formation of Judo Assist’s Team Ireland Inclusion Team in April, a number of registered athletes were selected to represent Ireland at the International Special Olympic/Special Needs Swiss Open Judo Championships. The event took place in Uster, Switzerland over the weekend of 20 – 22nd June 2019. Team Ireland was represented by the McKenna family, Libby, Zack, Tadhg and Cormac from Wexford and Caitlin Heffernan from Tipperary. The team also consisted of Aoife Mulroy, head female coach and international technical official and president of Judo Assist Ireland James Mulroy.
Team Ireland’s medal tally started on the first day of contest with the mixed team event which separated the team members into groups from other countries. This resulted in the first medals being won by Irish players, two silver and two bronze.
Day two saw the individual event get underway with a fantastic opening ceremony with music and dance. First of the Irish players, Libby was in action in a well contested pool. Libby showed her true colours and went all the way to the final and to win Team Irelands first international gold medal.
Next up was Cormac who was in a very tough pool, but held his own against some more experienced players. The result was a very respectful joint third place.
Continuing with the success of the McKenna family, Zack was next to compete on the international stage. He conducted himself with pride and skill and was rewarded with a place in the final. After a well fought contest, he was narrowly beaten and took a very impressive silver medal.
Last of the McKenna family , Tadhg was in great form and sailed his way to the final only losing out on the gold medal by a single point to his more experienced opponent.
Our final competitor of the day was Caitlin Heffernan from Tipperary. Caitlin was part of the largest pool of the tournament and she knew she would have to be on top form to have any chance of reaching the podium. But top form was what she brought and after many challenging contests made it to the final. A well contested final saw her out maneuverer and out skill her opponent to take Ireland’s second Gold medal.
A fantastic International debut for Team Ireland in this wonderful inclusive event which was bursting with inclusion, friendship, sportsmanship, happiness and judo spirit.
Final medal tally , 2 Gold, 4 Silver and 3 Bronze.