Behind every successful athlete there is a parent or parents who get up at all hours, sacrifice evenings and weekends and feel every triumph and failure as if it were their own.
Eddie and Laura Keane wear their pride for their Paralympian winning daughter Ellen (26) conspicuously on their sleeves and everywhere else. In 2015 Eddie had a green suit with shamrocks made to support his daughter’s exploits in the swimming pool. Laura followed suit some time later. They stood out as they planned their daughter’s swim meetings exactly as they planned.
Exhausted but happy, the two were holding court in the front yard of their house in Dollymount grove, Clontarf just an hour after her daughter won gold in the pool Tokyo. Ellen cracked her personal best in the heat and won the SB8 100m Chest Final, Ireland’s first gold medal in the Paralympic Games. Ellen won bronze at Rio de Janeiro Paralympic Games 2016.
Laura never went to bed. “Probably not Kelly Harrington’s mother, I have to be careful. It was nerve wracking, ”she says.
Eddie got up at 2:30 a.m. to watch the heats. The Keanes cheered so loudly in front of the television and the dogs started barking that they would have woken the street if most of their neighbors hadn’t got up to see Ellen anyway.
The whole street is adorned with tri-colored garlands and posters wishing Ellen the best of luck, and the Parish Church of St. Gabriel at the foot of Dollymount Grove has a banner wishing her well.
Even Ellen’s beloved sausage dog, aptly named Denny, wore a tricolor collar. She spends her day off during the week when she’s not exercising or working with Denny.
Six mornings a week
Eddie remembered getting up at 4:15 a.m. six mornings a week to drive Ellen to Aer Lingus Social and Sports association (ALSAA) near Dublin Airport to start training at 4.45am. Then there were the two years she spent in boarding school as a teenager. spent England, their first Paralympics in Beijing as a 12-year-old and the one-year waiting period for the Paralympic Games 2020.
“All those early morning hours at a quarter past four they all paid off for that gold medal and you could see it on their face, that big smile,” Eddie said.
“We are emotionally drained. It’s been such a long way, ”replied his wife. The one-year delay in hosting the Games as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic was good for their daughter, both believe. This enabled her to fall in love with the sport again.
Ellen was born in 1995 as the youngest of the couple’s four children with an undeveloped left arm and is now an amputee. Laura recalls that four young children were “busy, busy, busy” and they had neither time nor inclination to treat Ellen any other way.
“She never played with her handicap. She played hurling and was a fantastic hip hop dancer, she graduated with a degree in culinary arts. Nothing bothers Ellen. She was always strong-willed and a happy child growing up, “says her mother.
Ellen’s older sister Hazel said while the rest of the family hopped around in ecstasy after winning her gold, she was sobbing softly in the corner with joy.
“We knew deep in her heart that she was going to get gold. Just seeing her swim was amazing. She went straight to the finish line to get the gold. I am so proud of her. I was in tears in front of the screen, ”she said.
“I can’t curl my hair all my life and she will come and do my hair with one hand. It is an inspiration, it really is. ”