BY MICHAEL O’LEARY
Mary Fitzgerald has been making tremendous progress in Para Athletics events over the past five years, and next weekend the Callan native represents Ireland in the Shot Putt competition at the Para Athletics World Championships which take place in Paris from July 8th-17th.
Mary who competes for Gowran Athletic Club has plenty of experience on the international stage having competed in The Shot Putt, Discus and Javelin competitions.
In 2021, she was a Bronze Medalist in The Shot Putt competition at the European Championships in Bydgoszcz (Poland), before producing a superb performance to finish 6th at The Paralympics in Tokyo on her debut appearance in The Paralympics.
As mentioned, Mary will be in Paris representing Ireland next weekend, and she will be hoping to return to the French Capital in 2024 to compete in her Second Paralympics.
The Callan native has been a very busy lady over the past few years, as along with her Athletics committments she completed a 4-Year Degree course in Occupational Therapy in UCC.
While in UCC, she was awarded a Quercus Sports Scholarship for the 4 years that was a great help in balancing both her studies and been able to compete at the highest level.
Mary got a taste of the big time in Athlone in 2018 when winning double gold in both Javelin and Discus and a silver medal in the Shot Putt at The International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Youth World Games, while a year later in 2019 she won triple gold again at the Youth World Games in United Arab Emirates.
Mary’s Para classification is F40, which means that she competes against those of a similar height to herself, and willing to push herself further she has competed in able bodied events where has acquitted herself very well.
The Tokyo Paralympian has competed in several events around the world since first representing Ireland when joining Paralympic Ireland’s High Performance squad in 2019.
She has constantly improved and continues to strive to improve, and another personal highlight for Mary came in 2021 when she set a new PB of 8.12 metres in Templmore in The Shot Putt competition Munster Irish Wheelchair Association.
That wonderful effort put her at No. 4 in The World Rankings and if she maintains the progression shown over the past few years, she should definitely feature as a contender in the French Captial for both the upcoming Worlds and next years Paralympics.
Mary is a wonderful ambassador who has done both herself and everyone connected to her very proud indeed, and she is a perfect role model to the Paralympic Community particularly for her ability and adversity in overcoming the challenges that she has faced.
She was a popular Grand Marshal at last years St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Kilkenny, and it was so fittingly appropriate that she was recogized for her efforts on the International Stage along with the way that she is an inspiration to Para-Athletes who have high aspirations.
Team Ireland have had so much success in Paralympics events in World Championships and Paralympics Games over the years with Jason Smyth and Michael McKillop leading the way with a mutitude of honours.
With The increasing amount of Para-Athletes competing and continuing to flourish on the international stage, the sky is the limit for Mary Fitzgerald to achieve greater things in her biggest year to date in her career.