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Smalltalk with para athlete Jordan Lee

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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.

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Valuable role of Kerry cancer support charity recognised nationally

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Cancer support charity Recovery Haven Kerry has been recognised for its vital role in supporting cancer patients and their families at a national ceremony in Dublin.

The renowned cancer support house was one of 16 such centres across Ireland that were presented with plaques to acknowledge their full membership of the National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) Alliance – a group made up of voluntary and charity organisations delivering support services directly to cancer patients and their families. An additional 10 associate member charities were also honoured, including Kerry Cancer Support Group.

The Alliance advocates for, and supports, the development of integrated pathways between the cancer centres, acute hospitals, community cancer support services and primary care services. All members’ development is in line with the values of Sláintecare, seeking to provide assurance to healthcare professionals that these organisations are working to an agreed standard as set out in Best Practice Guidance published by the NCCP. 

Speaking after the ceremony, which was held at Dublin’s Farmleigh Estate, Recovery Haven Kerry Chairman, Tim McSwiney, explained that being compliant with the Best Practice Guidance for Community Cancer Support Centres is a true mark of quality. 

“It offers us a yardstick to measure what we are doing against the standards required. As a result, healthcare professionals have more confidence in referring people to our services. We are very proud to be a member of the Alliance,” he said.

Recovery Haven Kerry was represented at the event by centre manager, Gemma Fort and Client Services Co-Ordinator, Siobhan MacSweeney and were presented with their plaque by NCCP Lead for Cancer Survivorship, Louise Mullen, Clinical Lead for Psycho-Oncology Dr Helen Greally, and Minister of State at the Department of Health, Colm Burke. 

The event was also used as an opportunity to announce funding of €3m for the NCCP’s Alliance of Community Cancer Support Centres and Services through Budget 2024. The NCCP is currently in the process of distributing these funds which will directly and positively impact the delivery of services for patients and families nationally.

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‘More Precious Than Gold’ book launch

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At the official book launch of ‘More Precious Than Gold: My enduring connection with John McShain – the man who built Washington’ by Alice O’Neill-McLoughlin at Killarney House, was Minister of State for Nature, Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan, T.D.

Alice was born the eldest of eleven children into an Irish farming family in Rosbercon, New Ross, County Wexford. In 1978, she was awarded a scholarship from John McShain- the iconic builder, philanthropist, devout Catholic with Derry ancestry, responsible for many famous American landmarks, including the Jefferson Memorial and the Pentagon.

Her book records the lifelong personal correspondence Alice exchanged with ‘The Man Who Built Washington.’ His philanthropy extended to the Irish people in the bequeathing to the State of Killarney House and the surrounding thousands of acres incorporating the Lakes, Ross Castle, and Innisfallen Island. In 2019, Alice had the honour of inducting John McShain into the Irish America Hall of Fame in her home town of New Ross in the presence of his relatives from Philadelphia and Derry. This is a tale of altruism, of gratitude, of faith and of a life lived in the pursuit of excellence.

Alice also donated her treasured correspondence of letters from John McShain for the archive at Killarney House. Also in attendance were Members of the Ignatius A. O’Shaughnessy family, who was founder of The Globe Oil and Refining Company – and part of a consortium of wealthy American businessmen who were going to purchase the lakes of Killarney as a Country Club in the 1950’s.

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