LOCAL athlete Lucy Best has returned home to Lisburn having skied her way to victory, clinching two bronze medals at the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games in South Korea.
As the lights came down on the Closing Ceremony in PyeongChang, South Korea earlier this week, Lucy, 21, along with fellow Ulster skiers Rosalind Connolly (17), Portadown, and Ryan Hill (34), Richhill, were setting their sights on a triumphant homecoming with an impressive tally of five medals between them.
Having touched down on home soil, Lucy, who clinched bronze medals in the intermediate Super G and Giant Slalom events, as well as a fourth place ribbon in the female intermediate Slalom competition, is getting set to celebrate her success with friends and family in Lisburn.
Lucy’s wins were achieved at her international debut, with the 2013 Special Olympics World Winter Games representing her first time competing on the world stage.
Lucy, Rosalind and Ryan were selected to represent Team Ireland and all three Ulster athletes have delivered impressive performances, having put in months of training and practice. Their wins bring Team Ireland’s total medal tally at the 2013 Games to 12 medals.
Commenting on medal wins, Shaun Cassidy, regional director, Special Olympics Ulster said: “We are extremely proud of each of the skiers and are thrilled that all of our Ulster athletes have secured wins on the world stage. Having our Ulster skiers compete and win at the Games is a great start to 2013 and a tremendous boost to our other Special Olympic athletes across Ulster.”
Coach Jill Sloan travelled with Ryan, Rosalind and Lucy to the Special Olympics World Winter Games, having put the athletes through their paces on the dry ski slopes in Craigavon, as well as on real snow in Maurau, Austria at the Special Olympics Snow Camp.
Commenting on the success of the Special Olympics athletes at the Games, coach Jill Sloan said: “Lucy, Rosalind and Ryan’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.”
Nick Harkness, Acting Chief Executive, Sport Northern Ireland said: “We send our heartfelt congratulations to Ulster athletes Rosalind, Ryan and Lucy on their great achievements at the Special Olympics World Winter Games. As one of the first major world sporting events of 2013, the Special Olympics World Winter Games give participants from across the world an opportunity to showcase their abilities on the world stage, creating a lasting legacy.”
A special homecoming reception has been arranged to celebrate the success of the three skiers on Thursday February 14 at Craigavon Civic Centre.