UCD's Paralympians

18 Aug 2021

The Paralympics gets underway on the 24th of August in Tokyo. Following the excitement of the Olympics, UCD are thrilled to have 3 UCD Alumni flying the flag for Team Ireland at Tokyo.

 Paraswimmer Patrick Flanagan, Table Tennis Colin Judge and Archer Kerrie Leonard are all in Toyko preparing for the games in less than a week. We look at the athlete's journey to Tokyo in the run up to the  Opening Ceremony. 

Patrick Flanagan is from Rosses Point, Co Sligo and studied Economics & Finance while at UCD. He will be in action at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre on the 25th of August competing in the S6 100m Backstroke and S6 400m Freestyle.

Patrick has competed for Ireland on several previous occasions including the European Para Youth Games, where he won several medals. He was pipped for a medal in the 400m IM at the World Para Swimming Allianz European Championships in Dublin in 2018 and made the 400m freestyle final of the 2021 European Championships in Madeira and was 11th overall in the 100m Backstroke.

Classification: S6. Disability group: Spina Bifida. Events: Backstroke and S6 400m Freestyle.

patrick flanagan 


Colin Judge from Blackrock in Dublin is an Actuary and Financial Studies Alumni. A former Ad Astra Elite Athlete, he made his first appearance in Irish colours in 2012, when he represented his country for the first time at the French Open in Nantes. Colin has gone on to represent Ireland on numerous occasions ever since, touring the world playing against some of the best Table Tennis players in the world, including a win over the world number one in 2014, which was a huge upset.

Colin won his first gold medal in 2015 at the Romanian Open also winning his first Irish National Championships for the first time that year.

In 2017, Colin won his first major competition at the European Championships in Lasko, Slovenia, Colin became the European Champion, one year after narrowly missing out on qualification for Rio 2016 by one ranking place.

The UCD graduate was re-classified in 2018 and was put into a class above, which meant losing his ranking and competing against athletes in a different class. Colin shown his true character, in his first tournament of his new class, Colin went and won double gold in 2018.

He narrowly lost to the worlds number one at the 2018 World Championships making the last 16, a fantastic achievement following his re-classification. Colin has since gone on to win several medals around the world, including double gold in February 2020 at the Polish Open. Following the cancellation of all events and international travel, Colin returned to action in May 2021 to compete in a World Qualification tournament, showing huge character to reach the semi-finals.

Colin will begin his Paralympic Games journey on the 25th of August, competing in the Class 3 Men’s Singles event.

Colin’s Schedule

  • SM3 Singles Qualification – 25th August (Day 1)
  • SM3 Singles Qualification – 27th August (Day 3)
  • SM3 Semi Final – 28th August (Day 4)

colin judge


Kerrie Leonard will make her first appearance at a Paralympic Games following a qualification pathway severely disrupted by the covid-19 pandemic. Having completed a Marketing Masters in UCD in 2019, the Meath native has competed internationally since 2012, and has represented Ireland at the last three World Archery Championships.

Coached by Jim Conroy, Kerrie missed out on qualification to the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, this didn’t deter Kerrie as she continued to follow her dream of representing Ireland at a Paralympic Games.

Kerrie is from a farming background and a safety advocate for farm safety. She studied Equine Business in Maynooth University before completing her Masters here in UCD.

Kerrie’s Schedule |

  • Ranking Round – 27th August (Day 3)
  • 1/16 Elimination – 29th August (Day 5)
  • 1/8 & Final – 30th August (Day 6)

kerrie leonard 


Joining the UCD alumni trio in Tokyo will be James Nolan, UCD's Athletics performance coach and two-time Olympian, as the head of Athletics for Paralympics Ireland.

The Screggan man was one of Ireland's best mid distance runners during his distinguished running career, winning 800/1500m silver at the European Indoor Championships in 2000 and competing at two Olympic Games.

A graduate of Sports Management at UCD, he has been the Irish Para Athletics team manager at 11 major Championships, including the WPA European, World Championships and Paralympics.

In advance of the Paralympics, Paralympics Ireland have put together a fantastic video to help people understand Classification; what it means and how it is applied to each athlete and each sport!