Irish athletes David O’Hare and Fergus Cosgrove are currently well into their preparations for the Down Syndrome World Championships in Nymburk, Czech Republic next month.
O’Hare who is 22 is a member of Glenmore AC in Co. Louth, while 15-year-old Cosgrove represents Navan AC and is from Meath.
The upcoming World Championships is a multi-sport event and along with athletics features table tennis and tennis. Both athletes are focusing on the triathlon, which includes the Long Jump, Shot Put and 100m, along with the individual 100m and 200m events.
To make the championships the pair needed official times which prior to competing at their respective County Championships this month they didn’t have.
Both athletes competed in mainstream races. At the Louth County Championships O’Hare ran a time of 15.69s for 100m on his home track in Glenmore. Cosgrove took part in the Meath Championships in Dunboyne, also in the 100m, where he ran 15.91s.
Cosgrove is coached by Tom Clinton at Navan AC, and they have developed a fantastic athlete/coach relationship. Clinton provides Cosgrove with support, encouragement, and guidance and has helped him to progress as he continues his build-up to the World Championships.
Irish athletes with Down Syndrome have had increased opportunities in the past year due to fantastic initiatives that have been undertaken.
In 2021 the Down Syndrome Ireland Louth/Meath branch setup their first sports team for their members, the Warrior Wolves.
The Warrior Wolves continued to lead the way in April of this year when they along with Glenmore AC and Athletics Ireland hosted the first ‘Come and Try Day’ for athletes with Down Syndrome. Over 60 athletes over the age of 14 took place in various events.
There are already plans for more ‘Come and Try’ days to be put in place across the country. Athletics Ireland are asking clubs who would like more information on how to get athletes with Down Syndrome involved to contact their Sports Inclusion Disability officer David Daly. Daly can also be contacted if a club wishes to host a ‘Come and Try Day.’
Tessa van Heerden is the co-ordinator of the Warrior Wolves and is delighted that athletes with Down Syndrome have gone from competing amongst each other to now competing at mainstream events before heading off to the World Championships.
"We are left amazed by the easy inclusion process at club and county level - it is a dream come true," van Heerden said.
It is hoped that athletes with Down Syndrome will now be able to thrive with the structures that have been established.