AN ATHLETE who has brought “great honour to the Special Olympics, to her family, her friends, fellow athletes and the city and county of Limerick” was honoured with a civic reception this week.
Ashleigh O’Hagan, who was Limerick’s only athlete to compete at the Special Olympic World Games, was honoured in the Dooradoyle council chamber in recognition of her huge achievements in Los Angeles, where she won two world bronze medals and three world placement medals in gymnastics.
“Along with competitors from across the world, Ashleigh’s journey began many years before and involved plenty of hard work and sacrifice down through the years,” said Liam Galvin, Mayor of Limerick, who was speaking at the civic reception.
“Limerick City and County Council has honoured numerous men and women who have excelled in all sports. Today, my colleagues and I are delighted to be able to honour Ashleigh.
“You are a credit to your community, Lisnagry Special Olympics Club and of course, Limerick,” he added.
Ashleigh, who hails from Derryhasna, O’Brien’s Bridge, County Limerick, was among 88 people from across the 32 counties who competed in various events in the City of Angels in late July and early August.
As well as flying the flag for Limerick and Ireland, Ashleigh, who is a gymnast with Lisnagry Special Olympics Club, was also doing all her teammates at the Limerick club proud.
And when she was not competing in the games Ashleigh was rubbing shoulders with A-list Hollywood stars including actor Colin Farrell and former Pussycat Dolls star Nicole Scherzinger.
Despite all the glitz and glam, Ashleigh’s proudest moment was winning her medals after all her hard work. “I’m really proud to represent Limerick. The Special Olympics is very important. It has given me confidence every step of the way. I’ve made loads of friends,” she explained.
Cheering Ashleigh on in LA were her parents Brian and Philomena and sister Erin. Her other two sisters, Dawn and Leanne, followed her progress from home. On returning to her native city, Ashleigh was greeted with whoops of delight and warms cheers by family, friends – and even some tourists – when she posed for photos at the city landmark, the Treaty Stone. Ashleigh is keen to thank everyone who has helped her on her journey to LA.