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Lee striving for recognition as great athlete “full stop”

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An impressive jump of 1.90m was enough to secure a silver medal for Jordan Lee at the National U23 Athletics Championships, which were held at the Morton Stadium in Santry last weekend.

Lee was competing against able bodied athletes at the prestigious event and once again he showed that he can mix it with anyone in the country.

His best attempt on the day was second only to that of Ciarán Connolly at the U23 grade, and it was also good enough for an eighth place finish in the senior event, which was won by David Cussen.

The talented Killarney man is now ranked second in the WPA World Rankings.

Speaking to the Killarney Advertiser, the Killarney Valley AC athlete said he was happy with his performance on the day.

“My goal heading into the event was to jump 1.90m, which I ultimately did,” he said.

“That’s something I was really pleased about. Over the past couple of months I’ve been working really diligently on the technical aspects of my approach and when you’re working on anything technical, especially in athletics and the high jump, it takes a while. It’s a process - it isn’t going to happen just like that.

“It’s frustrating at times but it all came together last weekend. I have lots of positives to take out of it. I feel like I’m in PB shape but I’m still working on a couple of technical things. Once I get them right, I feel like I can jump a PB in the near future.”

Lee, who won bronze at the World Para Athletics European Championships in 2018, is keen to prove himself in competitions like the National Championships as he strives to earn recognition as a top athlete, as opposed to “just” a top para athlete.

“It means an awful lot to me to win medals in able bodied competition. It’s definitely something that I’m constantly trying to get across to people.

"I don’t want to be recognised as just a great athlete for my disability. I want to be recognised as a great athlete overall. Full stop.

"I’m trying to follow in the footsteps of people like Jason Smyth, who is visually impaired and is the second fastest man in Irish history.

“It’s great that I’m finally starting to get that recognition that I’m a good overall athlete, as opposed to just being restricted to competing in para competition.”

RIGHT TIME

Just like every other athlete in the country, Jordan is delighted to be back competing again after the lockdown and he says the reopening of his training facilities came at just the right time for him.

“The opening of the track has been a huge help. Actually being able to get proper contact on a track surface and to get that feeling of jumping over a bar has been a massive benefit. The plyos and all the training that I’ve done during lockdown have definitely helped me in the long run, but it was getting to the stage where I needed the feeling of jumping over a bar again.”

Looking ahead to the coming months and his ongoing preparations for next year’s European Championships and, of course, the Paralympics, Lee says much will depend on COVID-19.

“Myself and my coach Tomás (Griffin) are going to sit down in the coming days to see what the plan of attack will be. We’re aware that the Northern Irish Championships are on in mid-September and that is something that we might target, but we’ll have to suss out the logistics of that. We have to see if athletes from the Republic will be allowed to compete due to COVID regulations etc.

“Sunday could potentially have been my last competition of the year, which is a shame because I’ve only competed twice since the World Championships last November. It takes a couple of competitions to get into that good form. I definitely feel like I’m in PB shape. I just need to utilise my speed a bit more coming in towards the bar. Once I unlock that, I think I’ll jump a new personal best - hopefully two metres.”

This time 12 months from now the Paralympic Games will be held in Tokyo and though it’s still a long way away, Lee admits that the prospect of representing his country on the biggest stage is lingering at the back of his mind.

“An athlete’s ultimate ambition is to become an Olympian and that is a huge possibility over the next couple of months.

"I have an extra year to improve and develop. It’s exciting to say the least.

“I just need to keep the head down – I have the Europeans beforehand and I’d be hoping for gold there – but it does give me goosebumps every time I hear the Paralympics being mentioned.”

GRIFFIN

Meanwhile, Lee’s 16-year-old teammate Sam Griffin, son of coach Tomás, is the youngest athlete to make the national rankings following his sixth place finish in the National U23 Championships.

The long jumper came 15th in the senior competition with a jump of 5.62m.

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County Board open to GAA museum proposals

By Sean Moriarty The Kerry County GAA Board said it would operate “an open door policy” for any plans to build a GAA museum in the county. There have been talks at a political level to build such a museum in Kerry with political rivals in Killarney and Tralee both pushing for it to be built […]

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By Sean Moriarty

The Kerry County GAA Board said it would operate “an open door policy” for any plans to build a GAA museum in the county.

There have been talks at a political level to build such a museum in Kerry with political rivals in Killarney and Tralee both pushing for it to be built in their home town.

Before he retired from politics in April, Michael Gleeson was campaigning to build a GAA and cultural museum on the grounds of Fitzgerald Stadium.

His campaign goes back several years before the recession set in, with a €0.5 million bridging loan secured from Croke Park along with funding from Fáilte Ireland. That funding was lost with the onset of the recession before 2010.

Tim Murphy, the outgoing chairman of the Kerry County Board, has confirmed to the Killarney Advertiser that no approaches have been made to the County Board at executive level during his five year stint at the helm.

However, he said the Board would be open to such approaches provided there is sound financial planning behind the project in place.

“The first and most important aspect is the capital funding and my understanding is there needs to be Fáilte Ireland funding in place first,” he told the Killarney Advertiser. “If it gets up and running, there needs to be very clear talks with all stakeholders so everyone knows each others expectations. A museum attracts footfall, but it costs a lot of money to run. We would offer an open door policy to all proposals but funding, first from a capital point of view and then from an operational point of view, will need to be in place.”

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Loreto pupils are happy to help save the planet

By Michelle Crean School pupils are fast becoming the next generation of environmentalists thanks to a brand new litter-picking campaign. Happy to help save the planet one bit of litter at a time are the children from Scoil Bhríde, Loreto NS, who are currently partaking in the Picker Pal Programme. It’s all about taking on […]

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By Michelle Crean

School pupils are fast becoming the next generation of environmentalists thanks to a brand new litter-picking campaign.

Happy to help save the planet one bit of litter at a time are the children from Scoil Bhríde, Loreto NS, who are currently partaking in the Picker Pal Programme.

It’s all about taking on a litter-picking adventure in their local area as well as learning songs, reading storybooks, filling in activity books while witnessing that their real-world actions are making a positive difference and inspiring others to join the movement.

Picker Pals is a unique primary school programme that gives children the tools and motivation to become the next generation of environmentalists, teacher Claire O’Meara explained.

“The Picker Pal Programme is a fantastic initiative and will go a long way to raise awareness of the impact litter has on our environment,” she told the Killarney Advertiser.

Real litter-picking is motivated by a Picker Pack made from upcycled dinghy sails and containing adult and child litter-picking tools, gloves, hi-vis vests and safety information.

“This pack is then taken home by a different pupil every week. That child takes their adult on a litter-picking adventure. The children then tell the story of their litter-picking adventures through art and writing. Raising awareness is an essential part of the solution to littering. Picker Pals gives young people the tools and positive motivation to steward their local environment and make the world a better place.”

The programme, run by environmental NGO VOICE Ireland, is funded by the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications and various local authorities across Ireland.

Now in its third year of operation, over one thousand schools all across Ireland will be taking part in the Picker Pals programme this year. In Kerry, 29 schools are taking part, and Scoil Bhríde, Loreto is delighted to be included, she added.

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