Even at such an early hour the excitement levels were sky high as the team along with their, coaches, club members, parents and supporters boarded a bus to Dublin airport where they then boarded a flight to Zurich Switzerland and from there made their way to officially named Olympic Capital; Lausanne, in preparation for the opening ceremony at the Pontaise Olympic Stadium where they marched in behind the Irish flag to a capacity 30,000 crowd on Wednesday.
The Gymnaestrada is the biggest participation sporting event in the world with 20,000 gymnasts from 56 countries taking part. The event is held every four years and this year’s host city is the picturesque town of Lausanne.
The Gymnaestrada features teams from all five continents and practically every country in Europe. Germany will bring the largest team with over 1,600 gymnasts while countries such as Switzerland Finland and Canada will also have over one thousand participants each.
Among all this will be the 11 Donegal girls holding their own on a world stage. The girls come from around all around the county from Leitir Macaward to Manorcunnignham and Carrigart and all are members of the Letterkenny Community Gymnastics Club.
The club was first approached 18 months ago by Irish Gymnastics with regards to submitting gymnasts for selection onto the national team. It has been a huge effort by everyone to get to this day seeing eleven of their gymnast representing Ireland as the national team.
The club would like to thank the gymnasts: Megan Bernardo, Alannah Gallagher, Maria Gallagher, Molly Gallagher, Ellie King, Fiona Lafferty, Orla Lonergan, Eilise McLaughlin, Cara Nulty, Micheala O’Boyle, their families, coaches Meganne Stewart, Linda Bennett and Jessie Purtel, their sponsors, Letterkenny electoral area Councillors, C&M Embroidery, the Limelight Glenties, the Station House and Radisson hotels Letterkenny, Illistrin National School, McGeehan Coaches and all the business that gave so generously and last but not least the people of Donegal that even in these hard times supported the girls at fundraising evenings or gave so generously with donations. The team hope that they will make both their county and country proud.