A DOLLINGSTOWN teenager with special needs has picked up two gold medals at the Winter Special Olympics qualifiers.
Unfortunately 13-year-old Johnny Lyness missed out on selection for the Irish team for the games in Korea, but his dad Maurice said it won’t bother his fun-loving son.
Johnny, a pupil at Ceara School, was competing as part of a team from Skiability based at Craigavon Golf and Ski Centre at the Special Olympics Ireland Winter Games in Dublin.
The Dollingstown teenager took gold in both the Alpine Novice Slalom and the Alpine Novice Giant Slalom.
Maurice said: “The family are all delighted for him. We’re very happy that he has found something that he enjoys and that he’s good at.
“He’s not that bothered about not making the Olympics team. Johnny isn’t quite aware that he was competing in Olympic qualifiers. There’s others taking part who were very determined to get there.
“Because the selection is done on a random basis if Johnny had been selected we’d probably have let someone else go instead. Johnny will have plenty more chances to get to the Olympics and it might be better to wait until he’s a bit older.
“Johnny is happy whatever he’s doing. He would be equally happy going to Portadown as he would going to Korea.”
Johnny, who has been a member of Skiability since he was seven, is also a member of First Lurgan Scouts and regularly takes top billing at campfire sing-songs.
His dad said: “Johnny is a bit of a showman and loves to sing and dance and put on a show.”
The 13-year-old is the youngest of four brothers - his older siblings Josh (16), Daniel (18) and Elliot (20) have all played rugby for their school (RBAI) and at Lurgan Rugby Club.
Not one to be left out Johnny was determined to find a sport for himself.
Maurice said: “His mother would be a skier and we’ve been on family skiing holidays.
“The boys are all very sporty. It’s got to the stage now that they’re putting me to shame.
“We did the Dublin 10K a few weeks ago and Elliot, Daniel and Josh all beat me.”
While Johnny didn’t quite make it to the Special Olympics, his brother Elliot, an art student, has designed a poster for the London Olympics which has been shortlisted and could be displayed on billboards around the UK if selected by judges.