William Loughnane with Joe Duffy at PSFS 80th Anniversary

Clare Champion of Special Olympics

William Loughnane’s Story

William was born to Rose and Liam Loughnane in Co. Clare, in 1984, the eldest of 3 children. Born with Down’s syndrome he competed as a gymnast in the Special Olympics in Dublin 2003 and Shanghai in 2007.

William attended St. Clare’s Special School near Ennis where his love of sport was recognised from a young age. He was also a good all round student, with a special love for Maths and Science.

He worked very hard as a student in St. Clare’s and went on to complete eight subjects in the FETAC programme. He was a very happy young man and was always determined to be the best that he could be in every area of his life.

He enjoys many sports such as Cycling, Swimming, Table Tennis and going to the gym, but gymnastics is his great love in the sporting world. William began to participate in Gymnastics with Special Olympics when he was just seven years old. His potential was immediately obvious and William continued to achieve Gold medal at Munster and National Events.

After William graduated from St. Clare’s School in 2006, he mastered Computer Skills with The Brothers of Charity and was successful with ECDL.

Since then he has gone on to become an assistant coach with Ennis Gymnastics Club.

William’s success in Gymnastics continued and he qualified for the World Games in Dublin in 2003 – where he excelled – sweeping the board with Gold and Silver medals.

Throughout these years he also enjoyed taking part in non-competition events in Sweden, Jersey and Scotland.

He continued to train very hard for the 2007, Special Olympic World Games in China, qualifying in Belfast and then concentrated on his preparations for the challenge in Shanghai.

Speaking of the Opening Ceremony in China, William said, “It was splendid, great, I was so excited and U2 rocks!!”

“It would be an honour to win”, he said.

William returned from China with another incredible seven Olympic medals – this time, six gold and one bronze. He entered five categories, the pommel horse, the rings, horizontal bars, parallel bars and floor.

William proudly presenting his Olympic Medals.

President hosts Reception for Athletes

President Mary McAleese and her husband, Dr. Martin McAleese hosted a reception at Aras an Uachtarain for TEAM Ireland athletes and coaches on their return from the Special Olympic World Summer Games.

On meeting President Mary McAleese in Aras an Uachtarain, William said, “Meeting the President was almost as exciting as going to China itself.”

Clare Co. Council also paid tribute to William’s fantastic achievement by holding a civic reception in his honour.

William’s Dad, Liam who works in O.P.W is a member of the Public Service Friendly Society. The Society, as part of its 80th Anniversary celebrations provided some financial support to William and his family in 2007, towards their trip to Shanghai.

“The financial support from the Public Service Friendly Society made it so much easier for the family to accompany William to China and see at first hand his incredible achievement”, said his Dad, Liam. The Society also presented William with a plaque to honour the occasion.

“William continues to be an inspiration to us all”.