Edel Armstrong was ecstatic last week, as a place in the Abu Dhabi 2019 Special Olympics was confirmed for the Cabra-based sprint swimmer.

23-year-old Armstrong, who competes in Special Olympics Category One in the 100 metre, 200 metre and freestyle events, has a mild learning disability.

Alongside swimming, she is also currently working on ALPS (Adult Learning Program) qualifications that will enable her to settle into future work. She has been swimming since the age of five, and competing since she was a young teenager.

The Abu Dhabi Olympics takes place from March 14-21, 2019, and Armstrong’s inclusion was confirmed by post last week. She will now join her family in fundraising for the competition.

Her call up to the games comes after Armstrong won three gold medals across her three events in the National Games at the National Sports Campus recently. She normally trains with Phoenix Flyers at Coolmine Swimming pool, and will be upping her training substantially in preparation for Abu Dhabi.

“I’m over the moon,” Armstrong told the Dublin Gazette on the day she received her formal Abu Dhabi call up.

“When I race, I just think about keeping on going. I have to think about turning and keeping up my speed, and remember not to look around. In some races I have to count how many lengths I’ve done. In others there are counters.

“Sometimes I race with the boys, which is sometimes better, as there aren’t many boys and girls. The worst bit is the waiting around. You have to wait for other people to race and then get your medals. You might be there are nine in the morning, but not be racing until twelve or one. It’s really tiring.”

“I’ll try my best to win in Abu Dhabi,” she continues. “Before I go I will be doing lots of extra training.”

She’s also excited about receiving her official Ireland gear, and will be bringing much of her family to Abu Dhabi to watch her compete.

The trip will be the first time Armstrong had been to a competition outside Ireland, and comes as the conclusion to the Special Olympic cycle, which takes athletes from area level, through regional, national and then finally to the world level competition. She hopes, one day, to be a trainer.

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