The fun isn't over yet
Let's face it, the last two weeks have belonged to the Olympics and from an Irish point of view, it was a games to remember. So what's next? Louise Cashell previews the Paralympics
The Paralympic games have barely caused a whsiper amongst sports fans around the country - could you even name a handful of the athletes who will compete? The games should serve as the perfect tonic to cure our Olympics hangover and of the 49 Irish athletes travelling to London for the Games which start on 29 August, eight are from Cork.
Anthony is from Mallow and he has been sailing since 2005. An amputee, Anthony has represented Ireland many different times and he competes in the three person Sonar Keelboat event. Notable achievements include include a sixth place finish at the IFDS World Championships in 2005 and eleventh place at the same event in 2011 which secured the crew qualification at london 2012. Anthony sails with Kinsale Yacht Club.
A team-mate of Anthony Hegarty, John has already competed at the Paralympic games but in a different sport having won a bronze medal in Los Angeles in 1984 and a gold medal in Seoul in 1988 in the discus event. Now participating in sailing events, John competed in the mixed SKUD18 event at Beijing 2008 finishing in tenth place and he will be hoping his previous Olympic experiences stand to him at this year's games.
23 year old Ian is the third member of Anthony Hegarty and John Twomey's sailing team in the Sonar Keelboat event. Although he is a Kerryman, Ian - who is an amputee - sails with Kinsale Yacht Club and his qualification makes this Ian's first ever appearance at the Paralympic games.
John is an established Olympian having already picked up a silver medal in the discus at Athens 2004 and he also represented Ireland in Beijing 2008. From Dunmanway, 38 year old John who suffers from a spinal cord injury has won bronze in the club at the World Athletics Championships 2006 and he has also represented Ireland at wheelchair rugby and he will be competing in the 100m wheelchair sprint and the club throw. His form has been excellent of late and is a high hope at this year's games.
Hailing from Mallow, Johnny Cronin has competed in every major championship in his chosen sport, Boccia, since 1997. Boccia is a precision sport where athletes require a wheelchair where the aim of the game is to throw a ball a close as they can to a target. Johnny, who suffers from Cerebral Palsy, won gold at Sydney 2000 and he competes in both singles and doubles championships although he will be appearing in the individual only at this years games. No stranger to big wins, Johnny has also won various medal at World Championships including silver at the 2006 World Cup in Brazil.
21 year old Orla was just 18 when she placed in fifth in the discus final at Beijing 2008. A full-time athlete who is an amputee, Orla is from Ladysbridge in East Cork and has been competing in international competitions since she was 16. In 2011 she set a new European record and this year she set a personal best at the European Athletics Championships in Stadskanaal which resulted in a gold medal and she is currently world number one heading into London 2012.
Sandra, from Cobh, will be competing in several cycling events at this year's games and she acts as sighted pilot for her stolker Katie-George Dunlevy. The pairing have already made huge progression in their sport placing seventh in the 3km pursuit at the World Track Championships in January and in June they came in first place in the Spanish leg in the UCI Road World Cup.
One of the most experienced Irish athletes at this year's Paralympics, Tom will be competing in his eighth games having appeared at every games since 1984. Tom, who suffers from Cerebral Palsy, will be appearing in the mixed individual Boccia event as well as the mixed team event. Highlights in Tom's career this far include a silver medal at Atlanta 1996 and he then went one better and won gold at Sydney 2000 in the discus event.