Para powerlifter Ruairí Devlin from Kinsale will represent Ireland in Georgia this month.

‘It’s always been my dream’

A Cork para powerlifter will take to the world stage this month where he plans to lift the spirits of the nation.

Kinsale’s Ruairí Devlin will be one of six athletes to represent Ireland at the Para Powerlifting World Cup in Tbilisi, Georgia.

Ruairí, 19, will be flying out on Sunday and will join fellow Cork lifters Niamh Buckley and Angela Long, as well as Cavan hopefuls Britney Arendse and Casey Fitzgerald, and Meath athlete Sean Hughes.

The competition runs from 20-26 June and is a gateway to qualify for the Paralympic in France in August.

“It's a really special feeling. It's always been my dream,” said Ruairí who has used a wheelchair since the age of eight.

Speaking with the Cork Independent, he said: “My Irish nationality is really something very important to me. It's very special to me to be able to go up there and represent my country doing something I love.”

Having already represented Ireland overseas twice before, most recently in Dubai in March where he set a new personal record, Ruairí said that even when he’s competing against other countries, it’s really himself he’s trying to outdo.

“You are always aiming to one-up yourself,” he explained.

“You're in a competition with other people and other countries, but it's really more of a competition against yourself. You're always aiming to beat your last performance,” Ruairí added.

Looking ahead to the Paralympics, Ruairí said it’s something he is not yet thinking about because in powerlifting, unlike some other sports, athletes tend to mature into the sport as they get older.

He said: “There is still a possibility of qualifying. It's kind of a hope but it's not the plan. I'd be more planning to go for 2028 or 2032.

“Basically, more years of training is equal to more strength. With this, some of the best people in the game are between the ages of 30 and 35,” he added.

Growing up in the town of Kinsale, Ruairí says it was tough to leave behind the team sports he played as a young child, but that he quickly found a new passion in weight lifting.

“Kinsale is a very sporty, very competitive, lots of team sports,” he said.

“I was doing a lot of the team sports a lot of kids do. Having that taken away from me, I just had to adapt.

“I got into the gym from age 13 and then then I've been doing powerlifting for the last two years,” added Ruairí.

Offering advice to other young people with disabilities, Ruairí said commitment and self-belief are key.

“If you really want to do sports, don't let your disability be an obstacle or an excuse in the way of training. Just keep going at it, keep showing up to the training and you'll get to the top,” he said.