Tallaght woman set for Paralympic Games in Rio

By Laura Lyne

A LOCAL para-athlete who has been announced as part of the Irish team at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games is helping to raise the awareness of disability sports and the support it can give as she prepares to head to the games.

Thirty-year-old Ciara Staunton, who lives in Baltinglass and is originally from Virginia Heights in Springfield, will compete as a hand-cyclist at the games.

Ciara Staunton 1 July 2016

Ciara, who attended St Mark’s in primary school and St MacDara’s in secondary school, suffered a C7 spinal injury and became quadriplegic when a tree struck a car she was a passenger in in December 2006.

Speaking to The Echo, Ciara said: “It’s nice to have been announced as a member of the team, it’s been a long year trying to gather points.

“I’ve only been hand-cycling a year-and-a-half, I got my first bike at Christmas 2014. I’ve been involved in other sports, such as wheelchair rugby and I’ve competed with other teams up to international level.

“The paralympics was always the goal, so it was about which sport would help to get there.

“Sport was always something I’ve been involved in, I was swimming before my injury. It definitely helped me following my accident. My love for it was always there, it just consumes my life more now than ever.

Ciara Staunton 2 July 2016

“I encourage anyone who’s newly injured to take part in disabled sport, it puts you in surroundings where you’re not the only person dealing with a disability.

“It really helped me, even learning how to do day-to-day things like getting my chair out of the boot of my car.

Since taking part in disability sport, Ciara has been given opportunities to travel the world and is looking forward to her visit to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.

She said: “I’ve been everywhere, more so with hand cycling then with rugby. I’m also cycling outdoors, so I get to see more countries. This year alone I’ve already been to Abu Dhabi, South Africa and Belgium.

“I’m looking forward to Rio now, I’m nervous, excited, worried and stressed all at the same time.

“It’s tougher for women in hand-cycling then our male counterparts as there are less categories, so it’s more competitive. I hope to do well in my own category.

“After this, the rugby team have the European games next year, and I’m looking forward to Tokyo in 2020. I just have to evaluate how things are, and see where I’m going to put my focus.”

Other local athletes that have been chosen as part of Team Ireland at the 2016 Rio paralympics include Brian McGillivary from Firhouse and Dillon Sheridan from Ballyfermot.

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