A NORTHSIDE teenager, who has triumphed in the face of adversity, will fly the flag for Ireland in the upcoming 2012 London Paralympics.
Ellen Keane, from Clontarf, was born with one arm, something which hasn’t affected her life, ambitions and abilities.
The talented and determined 17-year-old has earned her place on the starting blocks of not one but three swimming disciplines in the Paralympics, which take place in August and September.
She will compete in the 100-metre butterfly, the 100-metre Individual Medley (IM) and the 100-metre breaststroke.
It will be the second time that the Ellen has competed in the games having previously participated in the 2008 Beijing Paralympics at just 13-years-of-age.
“My categories are among the hardest so I don’t think I’ll get a medal but maybe next time when the Paralympics are in Rio,” she told Northside People.
Ellen was born with her arm missing below her left elbow.
“It hasn’t really affected my life in any way,” she explained.
“I do everything that other girls my age do.”
However, not many teens would be too keen on her regime of getting up at 4.20am six times a week to hit the pool for two hours of training at 5am. Most days Ellen trains again for a further two hours in the ALSAA pool near Dublin Airport.
“I’m used to it at this stage,” she said.
“Of course there are days when I just want to stay in bed but I wouldn’t get away with that with my parents.
“I just get on with it and I love it. Although I couldn’t survive without having a nap sometime during the day.”
Ellen has been swimming competively since she was nine-years-of-age.
In 2010, she won a scholarship to train at the UK’s Kelly College for two years where she was coached by former Olympian Robin Brew.
She returned from her stint in England two weeks ago and hopes to complete her fifth and sixth level schooling in Ireland after the Paralympics.
Ellen will fly out with the Paralympic team for a training camp in Portugal on August 16 before they travel to London for the Paralympics on August 26.
Proud dad Eddie and mum Laura will be in the stands as usual cheering her on during the competition.
Eddie Keane, brimming with pride for all that his daughter has achieved, described her as a “fantastic young one”.
“She’s absolutely brilliant - so independent and so determined,” he gushed.
“From the time Ellen was born we made the decision that she would never be treated any different and she would be afforded the same opportunities.
“She bakes, she knits, she sews - she does everything.
“We were advised from when she was a baby that she should have a prosthesis so we’ve always had one for her but she’s never really used it and it’s just thrown in the wardrobe.
“She’s adapted and she just gets on with it.”
Mr Keane added: “We’re very proud of her. From the time Ellen was born we had to fight for everything for her and it’s paid off because she’s so independent. That’s what it’s all about and everything else is a bonus.”