Cyril ready to take to slopes

Cyril Walker. INPT05
Cyril Walker. INPT05

Markethill skier Cyril Walker is set for the Austrian slopes as he prepares to travel to the Special Olympics Winter Games next month.

Cyril is one of three Ulster athletes competing as part of a 26-strong Team Ireland squad in Graz and Schladming.

The 46-year-old is one of the more experienced members of Team Ireland, having previously competed and won bronze at the Special Olympics World Winter Games in Japan in 2005.

Cyril has been involved in Special Olympics for more than 15 years and though he is a skiing specialist, he also enjoys football, bocce and dancing.

He said, “Special Olympics have given me the opportunities to make new friends through meeting and training with other athletes and volunteers.

“It has also helped me to improve my sporting ability and to make me a good sportsman.

“Being chosen to attend the World Games has given me a wonderful opportunity to travel to Austria and to represent my country for the second time in my life, showing the world what I can do.

“It has given me the confidence to show that I can do anything if I try really hard and that I am a special person.”

He is one of six Team Ireland skiers that will compete in alpine skiing events at the games.

Head coach Jill Sloan said, “We train every Monday night and the athletes are also getting extra training too.

“We use dry slope or artificial ski slopes in Craigavon and Kilternan in the Dublin Mountains; there’s a lot more friction on it, so if you can ski on that you can definitely ski on snow.

“Some of the team had never skied on snow before. Their recent training trip to Austria was in January; so, for some of our six Team Ireland skiers, this was their first chance to ski on snow.”