Paralympics 2012 Medal Predictions: Team Ireland 6 Gold, 2 Silver and 4 Bronze forecast for Team Ireland at Paralympics.
SportsNewsIreland extends its best wishes to all the Irish team, management, officials and families participating in the 2012 Paralympic Games here in London this week and next.
Ireland has enjoyed considerable success at previous Paralympics -the Irish medal tally to date?
Ireland has competed at every Summer Paralympic Games winning 178 medals, of which 47 gold, 57 silver and 74 bronze.
Paralympics Ireland was initially set up in 1987 to be a coordinating committee for the 1988 Summer Paralympics in Seoul but is now the representative organisation for all Paralympic Games.
At the first Paralympic Games in 1960 in Rome, Ireland was one of 23 nations to enter athletes. The team finished 12th in the medals table with both of Ireland’s gold medals being won by Joan Horan. Horan won her medals in two different sports, one in archery and one in the 25 m freestyle 2 swimming event. At the next Games, hosted by Tokyo in 1964, no Irish athlete won a medal, this remains Ireland’s only Summer Paralympics with no medal winners. The most medals won by Ireland at a Paralympic Games is 65, 20 of them gold, at the 1984 Games hosted in New York and Stoke Mandeville.
At the 2008 Summer Paralympics, held in Beijing, Ireland won five medals in total, three of them gold.
So how many medals for Team Ireland at the London 2012 Paralympics?
SportsNewsIreland believes that Team Ireland will actually exceed all supporters expectations and not only improve upon their medal tally from Beijing but also exceed Paralympics Ireland’s own targets and those of bookies like Ladbrokes.
We fully appreciate – and accept – that more countries are here and many more are better funded teams than at any previous Games and of course that includes the Host nation, but one should not underestimate this Irish team nor their supporters.
With more than two thirds of the Olympic Stadium and other arenas being Team GB supporters this will obviously give great encouragement to the host nation’s athletes to continue where their Olympic competitors
left off almost three weeks ago. The tremendous warmth of the support for the Irish athletes at the Olympics will continue here due to the numbers of Irish fans visiting London plus the large local population who are either Irish or of Irish descent.
As we also saw at the Olympics, here again the British fans are more than likely to support Irish athletes in events where none of their own is involved.
But though this is by no means Ireland’s largest team it is the best prepared , and best funded Irish team too though much of that funding has been contributed by clubs, associations and families as well as by the athletes inc those who are part of the Paralympics family though not qualified for
London 2012 and through a variety of fundraising activities.
Let us also remember that though Team Ireland has but 49 competitors the team contains no less than five World champions and two reigning Paralympic titleholders.
REIGNING IRISH PARALYMPIC CHAMPIONS
Jason Smyth: T13 100m & 200m
Michael McKillop : T37 800m
CURRENT IRISH WORLD CHAMPIONS
Michael McKillop: T37 800m & 1500m
Catherine O’Neill: F51 Discus
Mark Rohan: H1 Time Trial & Road Race
Catherine Walsh & Fran Meehan: 3km Female Tandem Pursuit
Colin Lynch: C2 Road Time Trial
The administrative side too has , since its reorganisation, been even better organised and less likely to become involved in the type of controversies that caused such unnecessary concern to Olympic athletes and supporters alike , in the immediate
run up to and indeed the aftermath of the Olympics. A ‘welcome home reception’ has been fixed by Paralympics Ireland for September 10th at Dublin Airport.
Better still there is a clear Strategic Plan documented and published on the Paralympics Ireland website for all see setting out the strategy and goals for period 2010-2014. See link at end of this article.
The online availability of such a plan should be a “compulsory requirement” for ALL Irish sporting bodies receiving public funding. The Irish Sports Council (I.S.C) has always been very good at this but many of the individual associations need to be more open and more accountable.
Far fewer disputes occur when there is an “agreed” plan that all ‘sign up’ to, athletes and their families plus supporters know what to expect. The media service from Paralympics Ireland and their external agency has also been superb in the months leading up to the Games and one fully expects that that they will be continued throughout the 12 days.
So who will be the Irish medal winners according to SportsNewsIreland ?
We believe that Jason Smyth will retain hisT13 100m & 200m provided he has fully recovered from the injuries which upset his early season preparation for Olympic qualification times. He has been going well in training. The opposition is stronger than ever so he will need to be at his very best.
Michael McKillop may well retain his T37 800m ‘crown’ and add the 1500m title too his ever growing list of accomplishments too.One slight drawback is that Friday’s 800m semi-final has been scrapped so his first race will be in Saturday evening’s final. Never ideal to have one’s first race in the final but at least it means one race less before Monday’s 1500m.
Could well be a “Super Saturday” for Team Ireland’s Smyth and McKillop.
Discus thrower Catherine O’Neill is another who has been in fine form and very likely will get a place on the podium if she hits top form.
Mark Rohan has a good chance of medalling in both the H1 Time Trial and the Road Race, one of which may be gold. The former Westmeath Gaelic Footballer has been in superb form in 2011 .
Likewise Colin Lynch in the C2 Road Time trial at Brands Hatch next week. Flag bearer, Cathal Miller may get a bronze in the 1km Time Trial, a particularly strong field here also.
One feels that Catherine Walsh and Fran Meehan could strike silver (at least) in the 3km Female tandem Pursuit at the Velodrome.
Other possible medal winners are: Orla Barry (F57 Discus), SportsNewsIreland blogger Ray O’Dwyer from Hugginstown, Co. Kilkenny (in the Javelin) and James Brown and his new sighted pilot, Damien Shaw will be there or thereabouts in another of the cycling events, the 1km individual pursuit.
James has taken part in three Paralympics across Summer and Winter Games , having represented Great Britain in Ski and Biathlon – at 47 is one of the most experienced of the Irish team.
Though they may not win medals here in London, also take note of the young swimmers, Clontarf’s Ellen Keane (17) and 16 years old Seaford, Co Down’s Bethany Firth as well as 18 yrs old Darragh McDonald from Gorey . Surely a trio set for Rio four years hence and it would not be a huge surprise if one or other of them should get bronze here in London town.
The Sailing and Equestrian teams should also acquit themselves well and overall one expects that this will be a Games to remember for Ireland though of course let us not forget that the competition will be the toughest yet.
Gold: Jason Smyth (2), Michael McKillop (2), Mark Rohan (1) Colin Lynch (1)
Silver: Fran Meehan/Catherine Walsh (1), Mark Rohan (1)
Bronze: Orla Barry (1),James Brown/Damien Shaw(1), Ray O’Dwyer(1),Cathal Miller (1)
How do the bookies view the situation?
On the eve of the Games , Ladbrokes offered 5/4 that Team Ireland will achieve a medal haul of ten or more podium finishes.
And the bookies have admitted that they’re looking forward to paying out to patriotic punters should Ireland achieve the historic medal landmark.
Hayley O’Connor of Ladbrokes said: “Confidence is sky high for our Paralympians and we’re keen to share the excitement. A rush of medals would be costly for the bookies but we’ll be more than happy to be pay out on this market.
“At 5/4 we think it’s more than possible that Team Ireland can bring home twice as many medals as Beijing.”
Ireland claimed five medals in China in 2008, with three golds, a silver and a bronze. Punters expecting a similar showing from Team Ireland can back less than seven medals at 5/4.
Team Ireland Medal Haul in London 2012 Paralympic Games –
5/4 Under 7 medals
7/2 7 – 9 medals
5/4 Over 9 medals
As for the Paralympics Ireland 5 years Strategy plan you can find this here when time permits. Well thought out, nicely presented and thus clear to athletes, families and supporters alike as to what they intend to achieve and in what timescale.
Paralympics Ireland’s Strategy 2010-2014 : http://www.paralympics.ie/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/2010-2014StrategicPlan.pdf