It was appropriate that the youngest member of the Irish Winter Olympics team carried the Irish Flag at last night’s spectacular closing ceremony in Sochi.Seamus O’Connor (16) became the very first snowboarder to represent Ireland at an Olympic Games and enjoyed an impressive time, finishing 15th and 17th in the men’s slopestyle and halfpipe events.
O’Connor was one of just three athletes who competed in both demanding disciplines. The IOC, in recognition of his achievements as an Olympic Council of Ireland/Olympic Solidarity scholarship athlete, asked O’Connor and a selected number of famous athletes to donate some of his New Balance competition clothing for the IOC Museum in Lausanne.
“These Olympics have given me several life changing moments and this is indeed another! I could not be more proud,” he said.
On Saturday, alpine skier Conor Lyne, who turns 21 today, survived a treacherous course to complete both runs of the men’s slalom and finished in 40th overall jumping 70 places.
Progressing to a second race was an achievement in itself. Thirty-eight skiers fell victim to the awful conditions and temperamental terrain and crashed out early.
It was a sweet reward for Lyne, who had suffered a difficult fortnight. A shoulder injury sustained after arriving in Sochi curtailed his training while his giant slalom event ended prematurely after a fall during his first run.
Overall, the slopes were good to the Irish. Cross-country skier Jan Rossiter finished 82nd in the men’s 15km Classic – the country’s best result in the event.
For alpine skier Florence Bell, this Olympics was a frustrating learning curve. A fall during the women’s giant slalom ensured an early exit, though the 17-year-old regrouped impressively for the slalom – placing 55th initially. But, competing in an evening event for the first time, she fell again during her second run and unfortunately failed to finish.
Skeleton athlete Sean Greenwood may not have earned the top-ten finish he was looking for but he certainly earned hero status in Sochi and Ireland for his skill and courage at over 130km per hour in Sanki Sliding Centre.
During his second heat he took a corner dangerously high and was flipped upside-down, landing on his arm. Somehow, he managed to regain control of the sled and complete the race. Undeterred and unflinching, he returned to the track the following day and put up a solid time for his third and final run.
Congratulations to all Team Ireland members and our sponsors New balance for ensuring our athletes had world class performance and village wear. To our athletes you proudly represented your country and contributed to a truly outstanding Olympic Winter Games.
Chef de Mission – Dr Stephen Martin MBE (pictured far left)
Athletes- Conor Lyne, Florence Bell, Jan Rossiter, Sean Greenwood and Seamus O’Connor
Physiotherapist- Aidan Woods
Performance Support – Alain Untergassmair, Shane O’connor, Niall O’Connor, Alan Hamilton, Jeff Pain, Petr Jakl, Sam Wilkinson.
OCI support staff in Ireland- Martin Burke, Linda O’Reilly and Alex Bocsi