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Monday 10 September 2012
Mencap calls for greater funding and support for Northern Ireland Paralympians after eight athletes from Northern Ireland competed in the Paralympic Games
Mencap in Northern Ireland director, Maureen Piggott OBE, has congratulated and thanked all of Northern Ireland’s athletes who made the London Paralympic Games so exciting and so memorable – especially swimming gold medal winner, Bethany Firth (pictured) from Seaforde, County Down.
Competing in what International Paralympic Committee president Sir Philip Craven declared “the greatest Paralympics ever,” Bethany was one of around 120 athletes with a learning disability who made a welcome return to the Games following a 12-year ban on athletes with a learning disability taking part. The ban was introduced after the Sydney Paralympics in 2000.
Writing in the 'Belfast Telegraph', Maureen said, “As one of the organisations which campaigned for the ending of the ban, we are delighted that people with a learning disability have been able to join athletes with a disability and compete in London 2012.
“In Northern Ireland, there are around 33,000 people with a learning disability and, like all of us, they are individuals who want different things in life and need different levels of support to achieve them.
“Mencap is working towards a world where people with a learning disability are valued, listened to and included. Through their disciplined preparation and sporting excellence, the re-inclusion of athletes with a learning disability to the Olympic family will do much to highlight the contribution that people with a learning disability can and do make to world of sport.
“Our hope is that their dedication will be matched by funding and support to enable even more athletes with a learning disability to compete in Rio in 2016.”
Photo: Paralympics Ireland
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