CAPPAMORE Special Olympic athlete Alan Quinlan’s hero is John Hayes and like John, Alan was the big hero in the Irish team this week.
Alan had the biggest medal haul of the day with six of the country’s 20 medals on Tuesday in the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens. In gymnastics Alan claimed one gold, five silver medals and an unlucky fourth.
This is his first time to represent Ireland on the international sporting stage.
Even more incredibly Alan just turned 17 on May 18, said family friend Agnes Coleman. Agnes said everyone in the East Limerick village was thrilled when the news broke of his success.
“Alan’s mother Eileen is so proud of him. It’s a marvellous achievement especially when he is so young, He won five medals at last year’s Special Olympics Ireland Games in Limerick and he also competed in the 2006 Special Olympics Ireland Games in Belfast.
“It’s an incredible achievement especially when he is so young. He just takes it all in his stride,” said Agnes, who through the Friends of Charlie Brown helped raise nearly €1,000 for Alan.
“Everyone was so generous. Alan stood beside me outside the church and he told everyone he was going to Athens and what he was going to be competing in. He’ll be back on Tuesday and we can’t wait,” said Agnes, who adds that there will be a big party for Alan who lives in Turagh Crescent. He attends St Vincent’s School in Lisnagry and was joined in Athens by his trainers Susan Kenny and Dorothy Kavanagh.
Maura Walsh, of Scoil Chaitriona in Cappamore, said it was a great honour to have Alan raise their fourth Green Flag last year.
“When he was here he was a great little athlete and he obviously developed that when he went on to St Vincent’s,” said Ms Walsh.
Chairman of Cappamore Development Association, Olly Dillon and local councillor, Noel Gleeson congratulated Alan on his fantastic achievements.
“He’s a lovely young fellow and we’re looking forward to celebrating his success when he comes home,” said the two men. “When Alan isn’t training he enjoys music, especially Jedward, dance and singing.”