By Donogh Moore
Katie Dillon represented not only Ballinasloe, but the country when she competed in the Special Olympics which took place in Abu Dhabi this year and saw competitors from countries all around the world stake their claim in being the best in their sport. Katie, daughter of Mary and Billy, grew up in Aughrim alongside her brother Justyn and her sister Ciara.
After attending St. Catherine’s National School and Woodford, Katie went on to complete various VEC courses, travelling independently to Galway four days a week, to attend programmes such as a Brothers of Charity drama/art group called 'The Blue Teapot' and the 'Arts Alive' course.
However, she is obviously talented in sport, to have been selected to represent Ireland for the second time this year in shot put and walking, with the first being in the European Special Olympic Games in Antwerp 2014, where she participated in boccee and won a silver medal for the country.
After winning both a silver and a gold medal at the National Games held in Dublin in June 2018, Katie was selected to represent her country in the World Olympic Games in Abu Dhabi, alongside over 7,000 fellow Olympians from 170 participating countries, including 90 other Irish athletes. She competed in the 400m walk, as well as the shotput in the largest sporting and humanitarian event of the year.
Katie has had a huge network of support around her throughout her life. Her family, friends and schoolmates have all been valuable sources of aid and assistance over the years. None more so than the Mountbellew Tigers, however. The club is a Special Olympics athletics club, of which she has been a member of since 1999.
Having had a massive interest in sport all her life, she never ignored other activities to focus on just one, and she has participated in a myriad of different sports over the years, such as horse-riding, swimming, basketball and golfing. In recent years however, Katie has decided to focus on the shotput event, as well as walking.
Katie has met many famous athletes in recent year, such as professional rugby players and Ireland internationals Devin
Toner, Cian Healy and Rob Kearney. Not only that, but she also met Joe Canning recently at the Ploughing Championships.
None of these athletes have inspired her as much as her peers competing in the Special Olympics. These athletes, alongside her own family, have been her sources of inspiration in competing.
Her parents, Mary and Billy, her brother Justyn, her sister Ciara and her partner Shane all made the journey over to Abu Dhabi towatch Katie represent Ireland. Before setting off for the United Arab Emirates, Katie held a very successful coffee morning in Gullane’s Hotel which raised funds in aid of the Special Olympics. To help with this, local schools also
held non-uniform days, as well as various breakfast mornings. In all, Katie raised over €3,000 for the Special Olympics with the help and generosity of the local community.
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