LOCAL Athlete Kyle Norton is well on his way to competing in the Special Olympics next year having recently taken Silver in the Special Olympics North Leinster Golf Area Finals as well as enjoying a golf clinic with none other than Padraig Harrington.
No stranger to competing in 2010 Kyle represented Ireland at Bowling in the Special Olympics European Summer Games in Warsaw, Poland where he managed to win Gold in the singles, Bronze in the mixed doubles and Gold in the team.
When asked what he most enjoyed, for Kyle the answer comes as easy:
“Driving the ball long and down the middle, it felt very good’, he said, “The putting was hard. My irons were very good. I was having good fun with Peadar” (his playing partner)
Coach and caddy Anthony said: “Kyle had a great time, he played very well considering he was having an up and down kind of round. Kyle has a great ability to keep going which is great to see. Apart from competing Kyle really enjoys the social part of the competitions and really enjoys meeting up with the other athletes”.
Though the game comes naturally to Kyle he still puts in the practice.
“He practices at Dundalk Golf Club in Blackrock, the Local Driving range, in our back garden and his Uncle Edwin took him out on various golf courses around Leinster. Kyle and his fellow competitor Peadar McArdle were lucky enough to get private lessons with Dundalk Golf Pro Leslie Walker which was a huge help in improving the two lads games”.
Such has been their progress that they recently came to the attention of another pro, Padraig Harrington,
“Padraig Harrington asked for 4 of the golf athletes to come along to take part in a golf clinic at the Irish Open and the Kyle and Peadar were lucky enough to get picked. They met up with Padraig around three that day and he had a look at all their swings and gave them a bit of coaching and a few tips.
He was a true gent and had plenty of time for the lads signing their caps and taking a few selfies.
When they were finished they headed off to watch the rest of the golfers in the Open. A great day out!
And for Kyle Harrington had some valuable advice: “He told me to swish the grass with my practice swing and to hold my finish because you never know what ladies might be watching!”
Kyle’s parents and greatest supporters Anthony and Sharon wish to thank everyone who has helped in Kyle’s Olympic journey thus far,
“Kyle, Sharon and Myself would like to thank all the people who have and are continuing to help Kyle with his Olympic Journey. We would like to thank Kyles Head Coach Ailish McArdle for all her help with running around, filling out forms, endless phone calls and great enthusiasm.
Also her son Peader who competes with Kyle and is a great training partner and a good friend to Kyle’.
“We’d like to thank the Felda Gym for donating membership to Kyle to help him with his training and Dundalk Golf Club for donating membership to Kyle to help with his golf and Leslie Walker for the private lessons which have helped greatly. Kyle said its’ just a pity he supports Man United.
“We would obviously like to thank Padraig Harrington for the Golf Clinic”.
“We would also like to thank Miriam for organising golf clubs and balls for Kyle and a special thanks to his Uncle Edwin for all the time, effort and laughs he put in on the golf course with Kyle. Also a big thanks to family and friends who have supported Kyle all these years’.
“The most important thanks goes to the Dundalk Special Olympics Club based in Blackrock as only for them Kyle would not be involved in any of these wonderful events. This club is doing GREAT work for all the athletes and their families. So thank you to the wonderful Mary McElroy and her committee for all the endless efforts!’
“Lastly Sharon and myself would like to thank our son Kyle for all the joy he has brought to us. We would never have met so many lovely people or been to so my places if not for him and to witness him competing makes us bust with pride. When you met Kyle within 5 minutes he will make you smile and he will always be THE CHAMP to us!”
Next up for Kyle is training for the next phase of the Special Olympics which will take place early next year. Kyle is involved in Golf, Bowling, Athletics and Football so he will be kept busy at the Dundalk Special Olympics club in Blackrock.
You can follow Kyle in his journey to the Olympics on Facebook Kyles Olympic Journey.