Paralympics Ireland Celebrates 6 Months to Go, Confirming Eight New Slots for Paris

28 February 2024; Irish para-triathlete Donnacha McCarthy, left, with his former coach Dave Tilley speaking at The Helix in DCU, Dublin, for Paralympics Ireland's ''6 Months to Go'' event ahead of the Paralympic Games 2024 in Paris, France. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile *** NO REPRODUCTION FEE ***

Paralympics Ireland confirmed eight new slots for the Paralympic Games today in the Para Equestrian and Para Swimming sport at an event to coincide with a major Paralympic milestone.

Today marks six months to go to the Paralympic Games in Paris. Paralympics Ireland were joined by members of the Irish sporting community and the French Ambassador to Ireland, Vincent Guérend, at The Helix in DCU to celebrate and hear the stories of some of the athletes hoping to qualify.

Speaking at the event Paralympics Ireland Chef de Mission, Neasa Russell, made the announcement that six slots have been confirmed for Team Ireland in para swimming along with a four-person team for para equestrian. This brings the total number of qualified slots so far for Paris 2024 to 16.

The slots confirmed to date include Para Swimming (6), Para Athletics (2), Para Rowing (2), Para Cycling (2) and a Para Equestrian Team (4). The athletes that will be selected for those slots won’t be confirmed until later in the year but athletes are gearing up their preparations to ensure that they secure their place on the plane to Paris. There are several other sports that are well positioned to also confirm their place at the Games with the team estimated to include up to 30 athletes representing as many as ten sports.

One of the para equestrian hopefuls is Galway native Sarah Slattery who joined host Daraine Mulvihill onstage alongside her husband Jonathan Madden. The couple shared how they balance sport and life, and the support Sarah receives from her family and wider community.

Sarah said “I am moving to the Netherlands with my youngest daughter to concentrate on my preparations for the Games while Jonathan and our oldest daughter will stay at home in Galway. It is a big sacrifice to make but this is my dream and if I want to make it happen this is what it takes.”

Also featured at the event were para triathlete Donnacha McCarthy and his former coach and guide Dave Tilley. Donnacha and Dave discussed the long journey they have had together to Paris and about Donnacha’s partnership with his new guide, Seán Husband.

Donnacha said ‘I’ve come a long way from the athlete that Dave first met where he had to help me learn to swim and build my confidence up to where I am now as an accomplished Para Triathlete that is really honing in on qualifying for the Games.’

Closing the ceremony was French Ambassador to Ireland, Vincent Guérend who expressed his excitement to welcome everyone to Paris for the Games, the improvements the city has been making in preparation for August and conveyed his good wishes for Team Ireland.

Commenting on six months to go, Paralympics Ireland CEO Stephen McNamara said; “This is a very exciting time for us an organization and for the wider para sport community as we look ahead to Paris 2024. Qualification is ongoing but our team has begun to take shape with the fantastic news of eight additional slots across two sports. The ‘home’ Games give us the opportunity to really celebrate the athletes in a way we haven’t been able to in recent years and we will be embracing this to its full potential.”

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