A tumour put paid to this model’s Olympic dreams as a teen, says Joanna Kiernan, but this animal-lover now has a TV career firmly in her sights. Photograph by Gerry Mooney
She’s a well-known Irish Model, but she started out as a gymnast.
Injury kept Rachel from her Olympic dreams. “I found a tumour in my thigh at 16, so I was taken off the Irish gymnastics team,” the 23-year-old explains. “I was just sitting around, moping, and my granny entered me into a beauty contest, which led to Miss Ireland. I got into modelling from there.” Being ill at a young age taught her a lot. Rachel was out of action for 11 months, but she was determined to return to her sport. “I was never a sick kid, never, so it was a complete and utter shock,” Rachel says. “We had the European Championships coming up and I was on the Irish team, but my leg was getting sore, so my mum said I should get it looked at. That’s when they found the tumour. Now, any time I’m not feeling great, I always go and get it checked out.” She’s a photocall queen, but she fell into modelling. Rachel’s first experience of the modelling industry came as a finalist in the Miss Ireland competition, which she admits was a steep learning curve. “I didn’t have a clue what I was doing,” she says. “I think I was the only girl at Miss