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Dublin: 3°C Tuesday 26 January 2021

Meet Ireland's Paralympic team: the track and field athletes

Our athlete-by-athlete guide to the Rio Games begins today.

THE 2016 PARALYMPIC Games is just around the corner with 4,500 athletes from all over the world ready to compete in Rio. Over the course of the next week, we’ll introduce the 48 members of Team Ireland…


Track and field athletes

Orla Barry

Event: Discus
Age: 25
County: Cork

Orla Barry displays her medal Cork's Orla Barry. Source: Tommy Grealy/INPHO

One of the more experienced members of the team, this will be Orla Barry’s third Paralympic Games. The Cork athlete heads to Rio on the back of winning a gold medal at the IPC Athletics European Championships in Italy and she’ll be determined to add another Olympic one to her growing collection after claiming bronze in London.

Orla Comerford

Event: 100m
Classification: T13
Age: 18
County: Dublin

Just weeks after receiving her Leaving Certificate results, 18-year-old Orla Comerford will represent Ireland in the 100m in Rio. The visually impaired athlete from Raheny Shamrocks hopes to study in the National College of Art and Design next year but first she is out to win her first international medal on the biggest stage of all.

Paul Keogan

Event: 400m
Age: 24
County: Meath

Another member of the team who will be experiencing his first Paralympic Games, Paul Keogan will compete in the 400m. The Meath man, a member of Cushionstown AC, last year won three gold medals at the CP World Games in Nottingham.

Noelle Lenihan

Event: Discus
Age: 16
County: Cork


Teenager Noelle Lenihan is one of Ireland’s leading medal hopes. Not only does she go into her first Games as the current European champion and World silver medallist, the 16-year-old is also the current world record holder.

Niamh McCarthy

Event: Discus
Age: 22
County: Cork

In the sport just three years, Niamh McCarthy already has an impressive collection of honours as she prepares for her first Paralympics. The Cork discus thrower holds a bronze World Championship medal and set a new European record on her way to silver at the European Championships in Italy earlier this year.

Michael McKillop

Event: 1500m
Age: 26
County: Antrim

Michael McKillop celebrates winning gold

Michael McKillop was one of the stars of London 2012 as he claimed a superb gold in the men’s 1500m T37 classification. The triple Paralympic gold medallist also holds world records over 800 and 1500m and big things are expected of him again in Rio.

Patrick Monahan

Event: 800m and marathon
Classification: T53
Age: 30
County: Kildare

inpho_00979893 Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Patrick Monahan was inspired by what he saw four years ago and decided to get involved in wheelchair racing. He is the current Dublin Marathon winner and broke the Irish record by seven minutes back in 2015. This will be his first Paralympics.

Deirdre Mongan

Event: Shot put
Age: 38
County: Galway

Deirdre Mongan Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Deirde Mongan will be making her Paralympics debut at the age of 38 in Rio but comes into the Games in fine form. She most recently secured a bronze medal at the European Championships.

Jason Smyth

Event: 100m
Classification: T13
Age: 29
County: Derry

Jason Smyth Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

This man needs no introduction. A four-time Paralympic gold medallist, the Derry sprinter has never been beaten in the Games before. The fastest Paralympian on the planet stormed to glory four years ago and few would bet against him defending his title this time around.

Greta Streimikyte 

Event: 1500m
Age: 21
County: Dublin

Greta Streimikyte moved to Ireland from Lithuania in 2010 and won bronze on her international debut at the European Championships in June. The DCU student only took up athletics after arriving in Dublin and she qualified for Rio by shaving six seconds off her personal best in Santry back in May.

Medal chances

Team Ireland head to the Games with a target of eight medals set out by Paralympic Ireland’s Performance Director, Dave Malone. Four years ago in London, Ireland came home with twice that number — including eight golds — but that exceeded all expectations.

That said, this group of athletes have the potential to do the same this time around. As well as the likes of Jason Smyth and Michael McKillop, there are high hopes for Noelle Lenihan, Niamh McCarthy and Orla Barry in the discus while teenager Orla Comerford is certainly one to keep an eye on.

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The Paralympic Games takes place between 7 and 18 September. Follow The42′s coverage from Rio here.

About the author:

Ryan Bailey

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