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Swimmer Aisling wins first Irish medal at Special Olympics

The Wicklow athlete succeeded on the first day of the games, which opened on Saturday night with a performance from soul legend Stevie Wonder.

Aisling celebrates with supporters after her medal win yesterday
Aisling celebrates with supporters after her medal win yesterday
Image: @lydiarogersSOC via Twitpic

SWIMMER AISLING BEACOM landed Ireland’s first medal in the 2011 Special Olympics yesterday, claiming bronze in the 800m freestyle.

Beacom, from Wicklow town, set a new personal best in the event with a time of 15 minutes 46.88 seconds at the Olympic Aquatic Centre in Athens. The centre was built for the city’s 2004 Olympic Games. Her mother and coach Pam was in the crowd of supporters cheering her on  – as was her brother Shane, who made a surprise trip from the States.

The medal win came on the first day of competition at the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games, where 126 athletes and 49 coaches are representing Team Ireland in 12 different sports. The games began with an opening ceremony on Saturday night, when the 7,000 international athletes with learning disabilities gathered in the Kallimarmaron Panthinaikon Olympic Stadium – site of the first modern Olympics.

Stevie Wonder performed hits including a duet of That’s What Friends Are For with R&B singer Vanessa Williams, and chairman of Special Olympics Dr Timothy P Shriver addressed the crowd. He said: “Let me extend my thanks to the people of Greece. Despite all the difficulties and challenges this country is facing, Greece did not fail us and the athletes of Special Olympics will not fail Greece!”

Beacom has previously volunteered at the 2007 Special Olympics in China, and visited the United Nations.

About the author:

Michael Freeman

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