DELGANY GIRL PICKS UP TWO GOLDS AND A SILVER AT SPECIAL OLYMPIC WINTER GAMES
CHAMPION skier Lorraine Whelan from Delgany arrived at Dublin airport on Monday morning holding high two gold medals and one silver - which she scooped last week at the 2009 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Idaho.
There were emotional scenes and a hero’s welcome for the Irish Alpine Skiing team as their plane touched down. ‘Ole Ole Ole,’ Ireland’s adopted victory song, was bellowed with gusto in arrivals to the delight of hundreds of onlookers. ‘There was a huge turnout,’ said one woman who witnessed the triumphant arrival. ‘It was very emotional – there were shivers down my spine.’
There were none prouder at 28-yearold Lorraine’s Olympic achievements than her thrilled parents Brendan and Marie who accompanied her to Idaho. ‘We’re very proud. She’s a good girl,’ said Brendan. ‘She is a very determined person and she worked hard. He described a gruelling but enjoyable two weeks for the athletes and coaches alike. Lorraine won gold in the ‘Giant Slalom,’ and ‘Super-G Slalom,’ as well as silver in the Slalom event. Her brother David and sister Fiona eagerly awaited Brendan’s daily updates by email as their sister represented her country.
‘It’s always emotional,’ said Brendan, on watching his daughter win medal after medal, ‘particularly at the award ceremonies. She went out there to do her best.’ This was Lorraine’s third World Winter Games, having competed in Nagan
no in Japan in 2005, and Alaska in 2001. She took one gold and a bronze in Japan. She won a silver and two bronze in Alaska. ‘She has never failed to win a medal,’ said Brendan.
Lorraine has a mild learning difficulty. She works in the operations centre of Bank of Ireland in Cabinteely and has a very full schedule of extra-curricular activities.
As well as being a member of the Kilternan Karvers Special Olympics Ski Club, she has joined the Blue Dolphins Special Olympics Club and is a keen swimmer.
More recently, she took up Irish dancing at the age of 26 and has already passed her grade 1 exams, even entertaining the people of Idaho by joining in the dancing at a night out attended by the Mayor Dave Bieter.
The ceremony was at the Boise City Hall on Tuesday of last week and a highlight of the trip for the athletes and their families. ‘As much as you think we’ve done for you... you’ve enriched us so much with your culture in a way we rarely get to see in Boise,’ said the Mayor.
Lorraine is also an accomplished horsewoman and once worked for the Festine Lente Equestrian Centre in Bray.
Lorraine with her parents Marie and Brendan, celebrating after winning a gold medal in the Intermediate Grade Giant Slalom Event.
Lorraine arriving back in Dublin airport on Monday morning.