- Name: Cathy Dunne
- County: Cork
1. What advice would you give to our athletes who will compete at this years London Games?
Simply try your best, enjoy what you're doing and enjoy the biggest and proudest time of your life representing IWA and Ireland.
2. Tell us more about your involvement with IWA Sport?
I arrived home from the NRH on Christmas Eve 1978. I decided to get involved with IWA immediately and got involved with Gouldings training centre where Eileen O Mahony was the first person I met. In those days we were very reliant on and supported by volunteers such as John Healy from Carrigtwohill, Paddy Finn and Brendan Ahern in addition to my brother and sister, Colette and Cyril.
Then of course Jimmy Byrne also played a huge role in coordinating activities. Leevale Athletics Club played a huge part in our development at that time and were the first athletics club in Ireland to welcome and facilitate athletes with a disability. Three IWA members are now life members as a result of our long association with that club; John Toomey, Kay McShane and myself.
Jimmy Byrne was a huge influence to me throughout my involvement with IWA. I also would like to mention my husband John who sadly died three years ago. John stayed at home to mind our children, Cliona, Sean and Ciaran when I competed abroad. This support was invaluable to me to allow me pursue my sporting ambitions.
3. Have you competed in the Paralympic Games before?
My first Games were the 1980 Paralympic Games in Arnhem, Holland. I also competed in Stoke Mandeville in 1984; this was an interesting story whereby the Games were split between New York and Stoke Mandeville that year. There was a happy ending when I won two Bronze medals and upon returning home I got my first car and an engagement ring from my husband to be John – all in the same weekend!
4. What sports did you compete in?
I competed in many sports; Javelin, Discus, Shot and the Pentathlon which at the time included archery and swimming.
5. What was your biggest achievement or highlight of the Games?
I have great memories of Seoul in 1988 where the Irish team was the first team to land in Seoul airport for the Games. Indeed Eileen O Mahony was the first Irish athlete to emerge from the plane that day making her the first Paralympic athlete to arrive for those Games. We were welcomed with open arms and were the first team to fly the National flag at the Paralympic village.
One of the proudest memories of my sporting career was being the flag bearer at the opening ceremony. I also competed at the Barcelona Games in 1992.
6. What advise would you give to juniors hopeful of reaching the top?
In general terms it is fantastic to see so much junior development nowadays. I was delighted and honoured to be invited to the launch of the Rebel Wheelers in Cork last year. They really are such an active and vibrant bunch. Our junior members really need to know there is something for everyone in our sports. I also strongly believe in inclusion and integration of our members in mainstream clubs.
7. What are your hobbies and interests outside of sport?
Painting... I just recently held my first exhibition!!