By James Crook

John Twomey head and shouldersMarch 13 - Ten-time Paralympian John Twomey received a standing ovation as he was presented with the President's Award at the Irish Sailing Association (ISA) Awards ball at the Royal Marine Hotel in Dun Laoghaire.

An accountant by trade, Twomey competed in his tenth consecutive Paralympic Games in London last year- a record total for any Irish Olympic or Paralympic athlete - competing in the Sonar with team-mates Anthony Hegarty and Ian Costelloe.

The Irishman began sailing at the age of 25 and currently belongs to the Kinsale Yacht Club in County Cork.

He also finished fifth at the ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami in January this year, competing in the disabled Sonar.

'I knew nothing about this whatsoever." Twomey told Irish regional newspaper The Southern Star.

"I was enjoying the night when at the end, the President of the ISA announced that I was the winner of the President's Award,

"It's a major honour, and I am absolutely thrilled.

"When I heard my name called out, it was total shock, and disbelief."

Twomey has been in a wheelchair since he was 14 as a result of suffering a spinal injury following a crash while cycling in the County Cork Championships in 1970.

The 57-year-old Twomey made his Paralympic debut at Toronto in 1976 and claimed his first medal in table tennis at in Arnhem four years later when he won silver in the team event.

At New York 1984 he won a bronze medal in the discus before going on to win gold at Seoul four years later.

He was recently appointed as President of the International Association for Disabled Sailing (IFDS), and announced that he would delay his retirement to compete at the IFDS World Championships, which take place on his home course at Kinsale. 

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January 2012: Irish trio star at 2012 IFDS World Championships as winds pick up