A PORTADOWN girl has skied her way to a gold medal at the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games in South Korea – her first time competing on the world stage and on real snow.
Rosalind Connolly, 17, recorded an impressive time in the novice final of the Super G event beating stiff competition on the ski slopes of PyeongChang on her international debut.
She also put in a strong performance in the novice final of the Giant Slalom on Sunday, finishing in sixth place.
She was one of three local athletes who skied their way to victory, clinching one gold, two silver and two bronze medals for Team Ireland.
Ryan Hill, from Richhill, won the first of two silver medals on Saturday, coming second in the intermediate final of the Super G event.
He won his second silver in the final of the intermediate Giant Slalom event yesterday.
This is the third time seasoned competitor Ryan has won on the world stage, having competed in the Special Olympics World Winter Games in Japan in 2005 and Idaho in 2009. This latest win brings the 34-year-old Armagh athlete’s medal tally to seven, having won five medals at the two previous Games.
Coach Jill Sloan travelled with Ryan, Rosalind and Lucy to the Special Olympics having put the athletes through their paces on the dry ski slopes in Craigavon, as well as on real snow in Austria. She said, “Rosalind, Ryan and Lucy’s medal wins are testament to their hard work, dedication and talents. I am very proud of what the three athletes have accomplished – competing for Team Ireland at the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games is an incredible honour for our Ulster athletes; it has given them a unique opportunity to travel to South Korea to embrace the Olympic ideal.”