Record number of NI athletes in the Paralympics

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Paralympics run 7-18 September

Four athletes from NI compete for Team GB while another 6 are with Team Ireland

Ten athletes in all have made the trip to Rio for the 2016 paralympics.  The likes of London 2012 gold medalists Bethany Firth, Michael McKillop and Jason Smyth are joined in Brazil by six other competitors.

County Down swimmer Firth won the S-14 100m backstroke in London, representing Ireland, however this year Firth will represent Team GB.  Joining her in the team GB is Larne woman Claire Taggart (Boccia), 16 year old Ballymena local Katie Morrow (Wheelchair basketball) and Downpatrick man David Levy (seven-a-side football)

Jason Smyth will be aiming for his fifth gold medal.  The Eglinton man won both the 100m and 200m events in Beijing and then again in London four years later, setting world records in both events.  The 200m event has since been dropped by the Rio athletics programme so Smyth will just run the 100m. 

Michael McKillop from Glengormley already has three gold medals to his name, he can add a fourth in the T37 1500m event. Like Smyth, McKillop also set a world record in London.

The two track and field stars are joined in Team Ireland by footballers Ryan walker from Armagh and Cormac Birt from toombridge, who are both regulars with the Northern Ireland team along with British representative David Leavy.

Finally, Dungannon man Phillip Eaglesham completes the contingent of Northern Irish athletes in Rio.  Eaglesham is a former Royal Marine who, while in Afghanistan contracted Q Fever; a rare airborne bacteria which left him in a wheelchair.  Eaglesham now competes in disability shooting for Team Ireland.

The Paralympics take place from 7-18 September

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