‘Being a Paralympian means everything to me’

Jordan Lee passing on some tips to Elsie Friel during the launch of the Paralympics Ireland NextGen campaign at the Sport Ireland Institute in Dublin.
Pictures: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Talented Killarney athlete and Tokyo Paralympian Jordan Lee has been appointed regional ambassador for the Permanent TSB NextGen athlete recruitment campaign which will visit the Munster Technological University sports centre in Cork on May 28.

It will be the second of four regional events that aim to discover the next generation of Irish Paralympians by affording them the opportunity to showcase their potential.

It is a one-day regional opportunity for young athletes interested in para sport to discover their potential through a range of physical challenges and exploring different Paralympic sports.

Jordan, who came through a programme not unlike the NextGen event, which saw his Paralympic journey begin, was born with amniotic band syndrome after the umbilical cord wrapped around his left elbow in the womb, stopping the blood flow and growth.

This didn’t hold the young Killarney man back, however, and he showed huge sporting prowess throughout his formative years, excelling in both football and basketball where he created history by becoming the first amputee athlete to represent the country at international level.

Jordan Lee (right) with fellow athletes Katie O’Brien, Tiarnán O’Donnell, Mary Fitzgerald, Elsie Friel and Melanie Griffith at the launch of the Paralympics Ireland NextGen campaign at the Sport Ireland Institute in Dublin

A chance conversation with six-times Paralympic sprint champion Jason Smyth led to Jordan attending a Paralympic expo, just after the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. While attending the event, his natural flair for the high jump was spotted and he quickly progressed in the sport after being matched up with coaches who were able to hone his untapped potential.

His first appearance at a major international event, the 2018 European Para-Athletics Championships in Berlin, saw him win the bronze medal for Ireland and he followed that success by qualifying for and representing Ireland at the 2021 Tokyo Paralympic games.

Speaking about the Permanent TSB NextGen, Jordan said: “Events like these are so important to open the minds of young athletes about the opportunities that could lie ahead”.

Jordan Lee: Paralympian

He added: “To have the potential to represent your country and travel the world to compete is just amazing. Being a Paralympian means everything to me.

“Whenever I put on that Irish vest, I know that I’m not just representing myself, I’m representing my family, my friends, my community, my county and the entirety of Ireland”.

Jordan said it is a privilege every time he goes out to compete and to be able to do that at the highest level possible at the Paralympics is an extreme achievement.

“The advice I would give to kids looking to get into para sport is to not be afraid to get out of their comfort zone and try something new. Always work hard, and always be open and willing to learn to get better.

“Never let other people’s negativity hamper your will to achieve great things, and of course, enjoy every minute of the journey,” he said.

Permanent TSB is the title sponsor of the Irish Olympic Team and Irish Paralympic Team.

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