Portarlington gives Nicole Turner a huge welcome home

Lynda Kiernan


Lynda Kiernan

Portarlington's paralympic swimming champion, 14 year old Nicole Turner, got the welcome home she earned today from her community, and even a gold medal.

Over 300 people packed the community centre to honour the teen's achievement of reaching five finals in the Rio Paralympic games, the youngest Irish competitor.

Nicole and her family arrived to a standing, cheering ovation and the strains of Amhrán na mBhiann.

"We wanted to tell you that you are an utter inspiration to every single one of us, you've lifted our spirits and made us feel good about Portarlington," said Mary Oakley from the Love Port development committee.

She was even presented with a gold medal , by Noel McMahon of Portarlington Golf Club, and flowers from the Lord Mayor Joe McAteer who also read a poem he composed for Nicole and Port's other Olympic swimmer Shane Ryan.

Members of local sports clubs presented her with hampers of gifts given from local businesses. and parish priest Fr Noonan predicted that "in the next paralympics you'll be laden down with medals".

A delighted Nicole thanked everyone for their support.

"I can't believe all the presents I've got, thank you all for your support for the past few weeks, it's been unbelievable," she said.

"We are truly humbled by the warmth of the community," said her mam Bernie.

See next Tuesday's Leinster Express for full report.