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

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Life - - PEOPLE LIKE US -

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

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