Ailish and Gareth return home with immense pride

AILISH Dunne and Gareth Culleton returned home to Laois on Monday having done the county proud at the World Paralympic Championships in New Zealand, last week.

AILISH Dunne and Gareth Culleton returned home to Laois on Monday having done the county proud at the World Paralympic Championships in New Zealand, last week.

Both Ailish and Gareth, who made up a quarter of the Irish team, finished sixth in their respective events.

Ailish, who hails from Mountmellick, said it was an "unbelievable experience."

She threw 6.62metres in the shot putt. Ailish said she was fairly happy with her performance.

"I had never competed against some of those girls before and I won't see them again till the Olympics in London next year, so I was very happy with my performance."

"I hope to be way ahead of them next time," she added.

Ailish and her team mates didn't have much time to travel around New Zealand, during their trip.

"We left Ireland on January 13, but we didn't arrive in New Zealand until January 15. We had a couple of days off to acclimatise and recover from the jet lag before we were back in training," she explained.

"The days I wasn't competing I went to the track to watch the other Irish athletes compete."

Ailish said the Irish team had great support "down under."

"Other athletes and some coaches travlled over to support us, but there was so many Irish flags in the stand it was great."

Ailish and Gareth don't have much time before qualification begins for next years Olympics.

"I will take a week or two off before I start training again. I have to build back up to the level of training I was at before New Zealand. The qualifiers for the London Olympics begin in March and continue until September. I will also be competing in other national events here in Ireland, so I will be kept busy."