Sometimes I get to mix my love of sport with my actual job. Yesterday I had a story in the paper about four inspiring sports people from the world of Paralympics.
|Irish Mail on Sunday PHOTOS Thomas Honan|
The road to the Rio Paralympic Games 2016 starts this summer for would-be Irish contenders.
The games, which take place straight after the Olympics every four years, involve elite athletes competing in a range of sports classified depending on the extent of a competitor’s disability.
At the 2012 games in London, the Irish team of 49 athletes won 16 medals including eight golds.
Now 20, the Dubliner was 13 when she competed at the Beijing Paralympics. She won two bronze medals at the last World Championships and hopes to do at least as well at the World Championships in Glasgow in July to earn a place in Rio next year.
‘For my category, my arm has to be one quarter of my right arm and I am on the borderline. They put me in different categories to race depending on the measurement.
It can be the difference between winning a medal or not – every centimetre has to be so precise,’ she says.
She balances sessions in the pool and the gym with study at the Dublin Institute of Technology.
‘My lecturers probably wonder who is that girl falling asleep all the time,’she says laughing.
‘It’s all about swimming.’
‘I just think nothing is too big to get in your way,’ she says. ‘Everyone in Paralympics has had to overcome something to get where we are.
She throws a 1kg discus, the same as in the Olympics.
Deciding what to do with her prosthetic legs in competition can be tricky. ‘I went through a stage of wearing one and not the other. It’s all trial and error to try to get as much out of your body as you can.
‘You’re trying different things, putting yourself in different positions… all strapped down maybe so your bum doesn’t lift as you throw.’
Orla spends much of her week driving to training in Wexford and Limerick. While she had 96 supporters with her in London, she jokes that not that many will make it all the way to Brazil.