MOUNTMELLICK'S Ailish Dunne jetted out to the World Paralympic Games in New Zealand with high hopes of bringing a medal back to Laois.
Ailish arrived in New Zealand, last Saturday but will not be competing until next Wednesday, January 26. Training has gone well for the young Laois woman who is now ranked three in the world.
"We're hoping for the best for Ailish," her mum Assumpta told the Leinster Express. Ailish, who has been blind since the age of 19, will compete in the shot putt event. She is one of two Laois athletes who will represent Ireland in the World Paralympic Games. Clonaslee's Gareth Culleton will be competing in the discus.
Unfortunately, Ailish's family, who run O'Gorman's shop in Mountmellick, cannot join their daughter in New Zealand.
"We run a business in Mountmellick and it's not the best time to be leaving. But Ailish will have her personal assistant with her and she will be well looked after," said Assumpta.
The athlete will have 10 days to settle in and acclimatise before competition starts. Her mother is just hoping there will be no monsoon weather. "It's hotter out there at the minute than it normally would be at this time of year, but I just hope they don't get the rain that Australia are experiencing at the minute," she said. Recently, the people of Mountmellick raised over E2,000 for Ailish at a fundraiser night.
Mrs Dunne added: "It's great that Laois has two representatives at the games, and it would be unbelievable if they could bring back medals."
Ailish has also received word that she will be competing in the Paralympic Games in London next year.