Cillian Dunne is aiming to be at the Paralympics in Paris in 2024

Kilbarron’s Cillian Dunne to take on the World

While the World Cup in Qatar may be grabbing all the sporting headlines at the moment, for one athlete from Kilbarron there is a sporting occasion of far more significance taking part in the coming days.

Wheelchair racer Cillian Dunne this week sets out to represent team Ireland in the World Wheelchair & Amputee Games to be held in Vila Real de Santo Antonio, Portugal, which take place from November 23rd to 29th.

Born with spina bifida and hydrocephalus (a build-up of fluid on the brain), his condition manifested in scoliosis, paraplegia, and dislocated hips. But rather than hold Cillian back, it was in fact to serve as motivation.

Having excelled in the throwing disciplines of shot putt, discus, and javelin, in 2012 he had his first taste of wheelchair racing, and a love affair was born. Since then, the upward trajectory of the Tipperary athlete’s performance has continued unabated and despite a number of medical setbacks he is currently the holder of a number of Irish records in his sport.

The general feeling from those in the know is that Cillian is now on the cusp of major international achievements at senior level in his discipline, T54 wheelchair racing.

Cillian along with his father and coach, Larry and mum Majella set out on Wednesday morning for the games with Cillian in action on three consecutive days from November 26th.

Having been number one in Ireland since 2018 and the current holder of three junior World titles, Cillian is poised to make a real mark on the senior stage and now a number of friends, neighbours and supporters are coming together to ensure the inspirational athlete is given every opportunity to achieve his personal best. In the forthcoming games Cillian will take part in six events ranging in distance from 100m to 5000m over a demanding three-day schedule.

There is, however, fantastic support locally and indeed further afield for Cillian with a recently formed supporters’ group, Team Cillian, coming together to lend support to the LIT graduate on his continuing journey.

Competing in this particular discipline and at this level is however financially demanding, with no assistance currently available from any of the sporting bodies. It goes without saying that he needs the very best of equipment, in his case a custom-built racing chair.

To continue to progress Cillian also needs to regularly attend both coaching and competitive events abroad. He is now attempting to gain the qualification standard for the World Para-athletic championship finals in Paris in 2023 and the Paris Paralympics in 2024 in both the 400m & 800m events.

This will involve travelling to events in France, Germany, Portugal, Italy and Switzerland between March and May of 2023. Having access to the services of a UK based world class coach he will be required to travel across the Irish Sea every three weeks.

The group are now working on a fundraising effort to provide Cillian with the funds required for racing and equipment. With this in mind a number of events will be held over the weekend of February 6th, 2023. the central part of which is an auction in Kilbarron on the Sunday.

To follow Cillian’s progress in the World games next week and to keep up to date with the forthcoming fundraising events look for Team Cillian on Facebook.