Saturday 7 December 2019

Golden reception for Olympics star

An emotional Lisa Redmond as she waits to be presented with her gold medal at the Special Olympics in Abu Dhabi last week.
An emotional Lisa Redmond as she waits to be presented with her gold medal at the Special Olympics in Abu Dhabi last week.
Lisa Redmond and her close friend Jenny Carty at Dublin Airport last Friday after Lisa returned from the Olympics.

Simon Bourke

When Lisa Redmond headed to Abu Dhabi to compete in the Special Olympics a few weeks ago one of her major concerns was that she might let everyone down.

Having received huge support from her coaches, her mentors, her family and everyone in the local community, Lisa was terrified of returning home empty-handed, with nothing to show for her efforts. She needn't have worried. Because, far from letting anyone down, Lisa did herself and her county proud, claiming three, yes three, medals in the artistic gymnastics event.

And following an emotional return home on Friday afternoon last, which saw hundreds throng the streets of Wexford to greet her, Lisa is now taking a deserved rest as she adjusts to life as a local celebrity.

'She's on cloud nine at the moment,' said mam, Martha. 'When we came home it took us four and a half hours to get from one end of the town to the other. Lisa's loving all the attention though, she's very friendly, very independent.'

Having claimed gold in vaulting and silver in the balance beam, Lisa was then awarded a bronze medal in the all-round athlete category, but, according to Caroline Flanagan of Able-Disable Wexford, Lisa's participation in the Games was a close-run thing due to a recurring knee injury.

'Her participation was definitely in doubt, it was really worrying. She couldn't do anything in the gym, she was down with the physio in the Talbot Hotel for three weeks running.'

Thankfully Lisa's knee injury cleared up in time for the trip to the U.A.E., a trip which saw her accompanied by both Martha and, long-time mentor, Caroline. Upon arrival the Tomhaggard woman continued the intense training and preparation which she'd begun back in Wexford, working round-the-clock to ensure she was ready to compete with the best the world of gymnastics had to offer.

'She worked so hard and put in a lot of training. She had such a lovely team out there as well, all her trainers and the members of staff were fantastic,' confirmed Martha, who described the people of Abu Dhabi as 'gentle and kind',

But there was another couple of people who the proud mother wished to pay tribute to, a pair of close friends who have been by Lisa's side every step of the way. 'The people at Able-Disable have been brilliant, if there was a word better than brilliant I'd use it. They're just like a big family. I live out in the country and I don't drive, but Caroline brought Lisa to every physio appointment, to every training session, she made sure I didn't miss days off work, herself and Tony Murphy are truly amazing, they have done so much for us, they have gone above and beyond.'

Amazingly, Lisa only took up gymnastics three years ago, and it's just one of many disciplines she's tried her hand at over the years: 'She's always been in to sports, she liked football and hurling growing up, her attitude was 'if she could do it she would do it'. She does kickboxing too but she had to give that up for a while before the Olympics,' said Martha.

Although she plans to keep her medals in her room, at the moment Lisa is enjoying posing for pictures with the trio of prizes, and that's just with her family members. 'She has a nephew Anthony, and three nieces, Claire, Chloe and Catie, they're fighting to get pictures with her,' joked Martha.

And with the next Special Olympics taking place in Berlin in 2023, Martha says that they're keeping their fingers crossed and their passports ready, just in case.

Wexford People

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