Killarney native Jordan Lee was born with one hand but that hasn’t stopped him from pursuing his sporting dreams. In 2018, the high jumper won a bronze medal for Ireland in the Para Athletics European Championships in Berlin.
Adam Moynihan sat down with the talented para athlete this week to discuss his goals for 2019, his Paralympic prospects and some of his favourite things.
Hi Jordan. How is training going?
It’s going well. I’m training five to six times a week so it’s a fairly hefty load, but I have a great team at my side in my coach Tomás Grifin and assistant coach PJ Galvin. We like to call ourselves The Jumper’s Tribe, the #menonamission team, and we’re going really hard at the moment. We’re looking forward to the outdoor season, which is coming in the next month or two.
You recently secured direct funding from Sport Ireland. How important is that for your career?
Yeah I’m delighted. That’s going to help me in many different ways. For example, when I have competitions up and down the country, the funding will help pay for travel expenses. I train at the track twice a week so it will help pay for that too, as well as any gear or high jump equipment that I need. If we choose to go on our own training camp, we can also use the funding towards that.
Becoming a funded athlete is great and it’s definitely going to further my development as a high jumper.
What are your goals for the rest of the year?
The main goal is to hopefully get selected and qualify for the World Championships in Dubai in November. That’s my main focus. In terms of my jumps, I just need to keep performing the way I’m performing, keep trying to raise the bar each time, impress the coaches, and then hopefully get selected for the Worlds.
How would you rate your chances of being selected for the 2020 Paralympics?
It’s still very early days yet. The Paralympics aren’t on for another year and a half so you can’t really say. I would like to think that I have a decent chance but you can never be certain, you can never take anything for granted. The best thing to do is just continue raising the bar every time I go out training and competing.
Do you ever feel discriminated against because of your disability?
I don’t. Not anymore. When I was younger and I played basketball, I did. I used to get discriminated against quite a lot.
Nowadays I don’t to be honest. A lot of people know who I am and they respect what I’m doing, which is a great feeling. And it’s only right because I believe it doesn’t matter if you’ve got one hand or if you have one leg, or if you’re any bit different to anyone else. We all deserve to be treated the same.
Who has been the biggest influence on your career so far?
That’s a tough question. I’ve only been doing the high jump for a year and a half, so it’s actually still kind of new and I’m still learning things every day. I would say my coach Tomás has had the biggest influence on me. Without him and PJ, I wouldn’t be the jumper that I am today to be honest with you.
What’s your proudest sporting moment?
Obviously winning a bronze in the European Championships was a great moment for me and for my family, and also for my coaches and the team. But I actually didn’t jump particularly well. I only jumped 1.75m, which at the time was 9cm off my personal best. So to be honest with you I was a little bit down about that, even though I was after winning a medal.
I would say that my proudest moment to date was winning a bronze medal at the National Junior Championships (under 20) in January. I jumped a new PB of 1.90m in an able-bodied competition. To put that into context, that’s the equivalent of jumping 8cm over my own head. I’m currently ranked 7th in Ireland in the high jump in able-bodied competition, and I’m also ranked number 1 in the world in the para rankings.
So I’m really happy with how my season has started out.
What’s your most embarrassing sporting moment?
When I was 16 I had my first international competition with the Paralympic team in Berlin. I finished fourth out of four people, so it wasn’t great. I jumped 1.55m, which was really, really bad.
If you had to compare yourself to another athlete, who would it be?
I actually wouldn’t compare myself to any other athlete. You see people when they’re younger and they want to be like Ronaldo or they want to be like Gooch, but I don’t try to be like anyone else. I try to be my own person.
There aren’t really a lot of athletes out there like me, which I think is a good thing. I want to try and inspire other people, and you can’t do that by pretending to be somebody else.
Do you have any superstitions?
I don’t really. The night before a big competition I always say a prayer to myself and pray that everything’s going to go well but other than that, I don’t have any superstitions.
Is there an app on your phone that you couldn’t live without?
There is. I love Instagram. I wouldn’t be able to delete the app off my phone if I’m being honest with you.
What’s your most used emoji?
It would probably be the prayer sign. I can’t do it properly for you right now! But it’s a nice mark of respect.
What sort of music do you listen to?
I listen to all sorts of music but my main genre would definitely be rap. Whenever I’m trying to pump myself up before a competition, I listen to rap music.
What would you sing at karaoke?
Thunder Road by Bruce Springsteen. It’s a cracker of a tune to be fair.
What’s the last show you binge watched?
The Punisher on Netflix. Great show.
And last one… What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Never give up. It’s fairly straightforward and straight to the point but I’m a firm believer that you 100% need to believe in yourself and in your abilities to achieve whatever it is that you want to achieve. To do that, there’s only one thing you need to do and that’s keep going. Don’t be listening to what other people say. You do whatever it is you want to do.
Fossa School says ‘bonjour’ to French classes
Fossa National School is giving its pupils a headstart in learning a new language.
The school signed up to Language Sampler scheme as part of the ‘Say Yes to Languages’ initiative in primary schools organised by Post Primary languages Ireland in 2021. This is the school’s third year running the module.
Hélène Olivier-Courtney, the school’s French teacher and director of French For All Killarney School of French, covers ten schools in Kerry over the three terms.
The success of the initiative relies on an all-school approach and the active involvement of class teachers and management.
“The whole staff in Fossa certainly helped make this new journey a special and enjoyable experience for the children as we learnt French through art, songs, games and food tasting! This year, we also organised a catwalk on our last day. Our sixth-class students will have such a head start before secondary school and most importantly will have develop curiosity interest and love for the language,” said Hélène.
Opinion: Silent majority needs to stand up and call out far-right hate
By Chris Davies
Last Friday’s Dublin Riots should not have come as a surprise to anyone. It has been bubbling under the surface of Irish society for a good number of years now. The actions of a small minority last week was a culmination of years of racism, hatred and misinformation shared online by far-right groups.
Late on Friday night a disturbing WhatsApp voice note was doing the rounds on social media where a far-right actor could clearly be heard encouraging violence on the streets of Dublin.
“’Seven o’clock, be in town. Everyone bally up, tool up…Any foreigner, just kill them”
Watching the Riots unfold on social media brought me back to when I was working in Dublin a number of years back. My morning commute from Skerries to the city centre involved a dart to Connolly Station followed by a short trip on the Luas to the Jervis. Every week, without fail, I would witness at least one racial slur or attack on someone who didn’t fit the narrow minded view of what an Irish person should look, dress or talk like. I don’t know if it is the eerie silence of public transport that seems to amplify the situation, but that’s where I found it to be most common. The abuse was usually perpetrated by a group of youths or someone who was clearly under the influence of drink or drugs. The victims were always of colour, often dressed smartly enough to presume they were on their way, or coming from work. A far cry from the perpetrators who you could tell were roaming aimlessly around the city looking for trouble.
While shameful to admit, I would often look on and watch the abuse unfold, only to spend the rest of my work day thinking about the poor person who was told to “F*&K off back to your own country”. I would sit at my desk questioning why I didn’t step in and say something. There were one or two occasions where I did step in and call it out, but not nearly often enough.
This disgusting behaviour is much more visible in our cities. Since moving back to Killarney I wouldn’t witness as much direct abuse on the streets but working with the Killarney Advertiser I would be tuned in to local news and some of the comments I read on our social platforms are far worse than anything I witnessed during my time in Dublin.
There is a significant group of people in Ireland that I would call the ‘silent majority’. We are not as outspoken on issues we care about. We tend to observe and consume the news quietly, and only speak of our support or disgust on certain issues in close circles, too afraid we might offend someone. The problem with this is that we are leaving these far-right groups unchallenged, to become louder, more aggressive and more hostile as seen last week.
The past week Sinn Fein and the Social Democrats have been busy in the media expressing no confidence in Justice Minister Helen McEntee and Garda Commissioner Drew Harris but I would suggest that there is a large percentage of the Irish population that bears some of the responsibility. We witness racism in our communities and online every day and we need to start speaking up and calling it out.
On the issue of immigration in Killarney, there is no doubt resources are being stretched and our tourism industry is suffering as a result of an influx of immigration. Locals have also raised concerns in relation to the placement of so many male international protection applicants in one setting and we only have to look back on the incident in Hotel Killarney last year where a number of men were involved in a harrowing stabbing incident to see how that played out.
However, being concerned around immigration is not the same as anti-immigration. It is important to raise these issues with local representatives and Kerry TD’s but also to separate ourselves from far-right groups who are only interested in encouraging violence.
The anarchy we witnessed last week should never be the answer and research shows it is completely unnecessary. Harvard University have looked at hundreds of protests over the last century, and found that non-violent campaigns are twice as likely to achieve their goals as violent campaigns and that it only takes around 3.5% of the population actively participating in the protests to ensure serious political change.
Let’s continue to protest peacefully for issues we believe in, but stand up and speak out against people and movements in our community that incite hate and violence.
Fossa School says ‘bonjour’ to French classes
Fossa National School is giving its pupils a headstart in learning a new language. The school signed up to Language...
Opinion: Silent majority needs to stand up and call out far-right hate
By Chris Davies Last Friday’s Dublin Riots should not have come as a surprise to anyone. It has been bubbling...
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